David Pryce-Jones

Off-Target

The Woman Who Shot Mussolini

By

Faber & Faber 384pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

Numerous individuals in modern times have tried to assassinate a head of state, and almost all of them were revolutionaries or outsiders. The Honourable Violet Gibson was different: a lady with a courtesy title. Born in 1876, she was one of the eight children of Lord Ashbourne, a pillar of Anglo-Irish society and a Lord Chancellor of Ireland who was rich and took his responsibilities seriously. Not tall but apparently beautiful in a pre-Raphaelite way, Violet was made financially independent by her father. How things went wrong for her is a sad story, out of which Frances Stonor Saunders tries to construct something like a parable for today.

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