David Astor

An American in Parliament

Nancy: The Story of Lady Astor

By

Jonathan Cape 378pp £25 order from our bookshop

Nancy Astor was my grandmother and I knew her well, as I was nearly 21 when she died in 1964. Every summer from 1946 I, together with other grandchildren and nephews and nieces, would go to stay with her at Rest Harrow in Sandwich Bay – her cottage by the sea, as she called it. Some cottage. It has 15 bedrooms, a huge lawn where we all learned to ride bicycles, a tennis court and a squash court. We played golf, tennis and cricket, we swam in the sea, we read from the complete Everyman, and Nancy joined in everything. She loved games and she loved playing with children. She told us that sea water was good for us and that we must chew our food 77 times and read the Bible. Indeed, the only part of the annual visit to Rest Harrow that I didn’t enjoy was the Bible-reading and compulsory attendance at Sunday school. I also saw a lot of her when I was at Eton. The school had a rule that boys were restricted to a five-mile radius on days out. Nancy had managed to persuade them that, as the gates of Cliveden were within five miles of Eton, it fell within the rule.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the best aspects of Kaufmann’s book is its optimism' Here's @BurlM11's review of @epkaufm's Whiteshift. ,
    • Whom did Picasso label a 'bristly pig'? Read Rosalind P Blakesley's review of The Collector by Natalya Semenova to… ,
    • Alexandra Gajda on Anna Beer's new biography, Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh ,
    • Mark Lawson reviews @jonathancoe's Middle England - The Rotters' Club for our Brexit age. ,
    • 'Behind every book that is published lies ... a haunted landscape, populated by the ghosts of things written and ex… ,
    • 'We once more live in a great age of dragon invention' Here's Tom Shippey on Martin Arnold's The Dragon ,
    • RT : Man at the q&a part of the book panel: Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't s… ,