The Woman Who Shot Mussolini by Frances Stonor Saunders - review by David Pryce-Jones

David Pryce-Jones

Off-Target

The Woman Who Shot Mussolini

By

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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.

The family was not as conventional or fortunate as it might appear. Her brother Willie, the next Lord Ashbourne, was a Home Ruler who dressed the Irish nationalist part with his kilt, a sporran in which he kept a tortoise, green stockings, and a saffron cloak, wearing all

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