Monday, August 2, 2010

Five best books on female adventurers

Frances Osborne worked as a barrister and investment research analyst before becoming a full-time writer.

Her latest book, The Bolter, is the true story of Idina Sackville, an extremely adventurous English aristocrat who divorced five times in the 1920’s and 30’s, had lovers without number and hosted partner-swapping party games in her farmhouse in Kenya.

For the Wall Street Journal, she named a five best list of books about female adventurers.

One title on the list:
Mistress of Modernism
by Mary V. Dearborn

By taking down New Yorker Benjamin Guggenheim in 1912, the Titanic put his children in line for modest fortunes when they turned 21. To daughter Peggy that meant waiting until 1919—when she was free to run off to Europe and embark on a life marked by a love of both art and sex. Mary Dearborn tracks her through it all in this captivating biography. Guggenheim befriended Marcel Duchamp and Constantin Brancusi; she married a Dada artist named Laurence Vail. She had an affair with Samuel Beckett; her second husband was artist Max Ernst. During a week in bed with Beckett, she was persuaded by the writer to start collecting modern art, not just modern artists. Guggenheim opened her first gallery in London in 1938, buying "a picture a day" and amassing a collection that included the work of Picasso, Braque, Miró, Mondrian, Dalí and Calder. Yearning for a museum instead of an ever-changing gallery, Guggenheim eventually installed her collection in a Venetian palazzo, later donating the building and its contents to the museum in New York named for her uncle, Solomon R. Guggenheim. Dearborn's narrative of Guggenheim's life was criticized for the author's attachment to her subject, but this affection makes the work all the more enjoyable.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Frances Osborne's The Bolter.

Also see Jennie Rooney's list of the top ten women travelers in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue