Critical Acclaim


Reviews & Comment UK

‘Osborne is at her best when reminding us of the struggles of the suffragettes and at her most moving when she takes her heroine off to France as an ambulance driver, carrying the broken bodies of a senseless war’ Evening Standard

‘Park Lane is defter than a comedy of manners. Osborne echoes the refrains of Henry James and Edith Wharton, creating an air of geniality, even gentle comedy, to conceal intrigue and darkness’ - Spectator

‘Truly elegant escapism - with a healthy dash of history thrown in’ - Red Magazine, Book of the Month

‘Adore this pacey page-turner’ - Easy Living magazine

'Frances Osborne will be in the vanguard of what is surely an emergent genre: books that appeal to Downton Abbey fans.' The Guardian (London)

'Frances Osborne's Park Lane, a gripping story about two young women, one a housemaid, on the youngest daughter of the house, captures brilliantly how the outbreak of war and the changing attitudes towards women affected social relationships.' The Bookseller

Top ten read of 2012: ‘A feisty novel about militant suffragettes.’ Easy Living

'Frances Osborne will be in the vanguard of what is surely an emergent genre: books that appeal to Downton Abbey fans.' - The Guardian, 10 December 2011

Reviews & Comment USA

Minneapolis Star-Tribune - June 4

Fans of "Downton Abbey" will have plenty of reading choices this summer to fill the void left by the popular television series, including Frances Osborne's second novel, which takes place between 1914 and 1923. Osborne deftly parallels emerging suffragette and erstwhile socialite Bea's privileged lifestyle with the lowered expectations of reluctant housemaid Grace. While their stations in life may be quite different, by the end of the novel their lives have intersected in ways they could have never foreseen.

Booklist - Issue: May 15, 2012

Rigid class roles and the struggling rise of women’s independence in 1914 Britain make up the heart of Osborne’s first novel. Grace Campbell is 18 when she arrives in London and reluctantly snags the only job she can, as housemaid to a wealthy family. Quickly plunged into the interests and intrigues of a family buffered by serving staff in a society on the brink of world war, Grace discovers the quietly opinionated daughter of the family, Beatrice, might be a kindred soul. Bea has returned from America following a broken engagement and is searching for deeper meaning in her life. Reflecting the viewpoints of each woman in her very different yet inexorably linked circumstances dictated by class mores, time, and country, the story line follows the trajectory of wartime looming over a country on the brink of massive changes. The premise of women’s suffrage laces tightly throughout the plot as well, lending inner conflict and viewpoints that enrich the characterization. Set in the same time period as the popular Downton Abbey television series, this title will appeal to fans of its era. — Julie Trevelyan

Truly interesting. Osborne paints an enthralling portrait of upper class English life just before, during and immediately after the Great War. Frivolous, rich, sexy, achingly fashionable… [Idina was] a tragic figure of a young woman whose life was broken by the catastrophes of 1914-18..’ Robert McCrum, Observer

‘This is a truly astonishing book. Frances Osborne has not just brought to life a dizzingly rich and scandalous slice of social history, she has produced a tragic and deeply moving tale as well. It is far more gripping than any novel I have read for years’ Antony Beevor

‘A wonderfully engaging book which combines the tingling immediacy of the best kind of history with the stay-up-till-3am-to-finish-it urgency of a bestseller.’ Allison Pearson, Daily Mail

'The Bolter is a corker of a subject. Idina's behaviour was out of Vile Bodies, the stuff of fiction: she became “Iris Storm” in Michael Arlen's novel The Green Hat; and probably inspired “The Bolter” in Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love. Osborne's richly wrought descriptions (of glittering Paris nights and lush mountainous landscapes of Kenya's Happy Valley) are fabulous...a breakneck-paced, thoroughly diverting story.' Valerie Grove, The Times

‘Passionate and headstrong, Lady Idina was determined to be free even if the cost was scandal and ruin. Frances Osborne has brilliantly captured not only one woman's life but an entire lost society.’ Amanda Foreman

'Frances Osborne writes in a warm, sympathetic and engrossing way, evoking in well-chosen detail the razzmatazz of the very rich.’ Kate McCloughlin, Times Literary Supplement

‘The Bolter is a biographical treat’ Kerry Fowler, Good Housekeeping

‘Osborne is a graceful writer, excellent at evoking the atmosphere of London during the First World War and Happy Valley in the Twenties. Her judgement is pitch-perfect, never letting Idina off the hook but at the same time sympathetic towards her, and she skilfully captures the myriad twists and turns of a turbulent life.’ Christopher Silvester, Daily Express

‘Frances Osborne has produced a racy romp underpinned by some impressive research. She understands the period and the world she describe: she is excellent, for instance, on young upper-class society around 1914; on Paris during the First World War; and on the life and landscape of British Kenya in the 1920s and 1930s.’ Selina Hastings, Sunday Telegraph

‘Idina Sackville's story is a parable of the 20th century...Osborne tells this tragicomedy of the Jazz Age with wit and style...and has written an enthralling account of a dazzling troubled life.’ Julian Fellowes, Daily Mail

'From the opening scene in Claridge’s Hotel in the mid-1930’s, it is possible to forget that The Bolter is non-fiction, as the heady pace and richness of detail propel the reader through each sensational and increasingly tragic phase of Idina’s life.' Juliet Nicolson, Evening Standard.

‘An engaging book and a definitive final look back at those naughty people who, between the wars, took their bad behaviour off to Kenya and whose upper-class delinquency became gilded with unjustified glamour.’ Alexandra Fuller, Financial Times

‘A bewitching character brilliantly painted’ Easy Living

'A superb portrait of an astonishing woman and her times.’ WBQ

‘Osborne is an imaginative scene painter… Idina wasn’t admirable, but Osborne makes us sympathise with her.’ Marianne Brace, Independent

‘Frances Osborne unearths the moving truth behind the headlines. It’s a melancholy, vivid portrait of a list lady and her troubled world. 4 Stars’ Marie Claire

‘This biography tells the truth (and the heartache) behind the woman who scandalised upper-class England.’ Elle

Lilla’s Feast is a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book

Amanda Foreman 'A wonderful, inspiring book, part page-turner, part history...Frances Osborne perfectly captures the stories of a lost generation of women.'

Santa Montefiore 'Passionately written and compelling...a wonderful read. The extraordinary life of this ordinary woman is a tumultuous feast of the senses.'

Margaret Forster ‘I loved Lilla’s Feast – absolutely absorbing, both for is historical content and its personal details. I felt for Lilla, every step of the way...a real feeling for place fills this book...lovely.’

New York Times – Editor’s Choice OSBORNE beautifully evokes a lost world, effortlessly offering up 1930's cricket-playing China.

USA Today ‘Osborne brings alive the world of her great-grandmother...dazzling and inspiring.’

Asian Review of Books Living history does not get much more lively than this gripping story

Tatler 'A wonderfully evocative, vivid, distilled book.'

Sunday Telegraph 'Osborne tells the story of her great-granny's life with page-turning brio.'

You Magazine 'A rapturous fusion of personal history and tales of Empire and the Far East.'

Glamour, Must-Read selection 'A smooth-flowing and enthralling testament.'

The Times 'Powerfully imagined...Her years in the Far East seem to cling to these pages, infusing the narrative with exoticism.'