Daughters of Britannia: The Lives and Times of Diplomatic Wives by Katie Hickman - review by Antonia Fraser

Antonia Fraser

Living On Mail Order

Daughters of Britannia: The Lives and Times of Diplomatic Wives

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HarperCollins 320pp £19.99 order from our bookshop
 

Katie Hickman starts ahead of the game so far as I am concerned, since A Trip to the Light Fantastic with a Mexican Circus, published in 1993, is one of the most bizarrely enjoyable books about Mexico that I have ever read – and it is, after all, a country that lends itself to such. Daughters of Britannia: The Lives and Times of Diplomatic Wives concerns itself at first sight with a more staid subject, and the title is certainly stuffier. (It is also possibly confusing, since Joanna Trollope wrote a book on a not totally dissimilar theme in 1983: Britannia’s Daughters: A Study of Women in the British Empire.)

Hickman’s book, however, is the reverse of stuffy. It has the same beguiling energy of style and purpose as the account of her Mexican trip and is altogether a wonderful ragbag of anecdotes (some funny, others painful) as well as a serious attempt to chronicle the fortunes of a dying

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