The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me by Sofka Zinovieff - review by Alexander Waugh

Alexander Waugh

Ménage à Quatre

The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me

By

Jonathan Cape 436pp £25 order from our bookshop
 

In Red Princess, published in 2007, Sofka Zinovieff wrote critically and affectionately about her paternal grandmother, Princess Sofka Dolgorouky, a hard-drinking, promiscuous Russian aristocrat dedicated to communist causes. This book explores her maternal grandparents with equal candour and critical affection. At the centre of the story lies a gorgeous but not entirely beloved country house at Faringdon in Oxfordshire.

Zinovieff’s title – The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me – needs some explaining. ‘Me’ is obviously the author. Born in 1961, Zinovieff has published one novel and three fascinating personal memoirs, of which this is her latest and best. Her father, Peter Zinovieff, developed musical synthesisers in

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