Mary Wesley published her first novel at seventy and went on to write a further nine bestsellers, including the legendary The Camomile Lawn, in a style best described as arsenic without the old lace. Many of her stories were inspired by her experiences during the Blitz, and by her marriages: the first to an aristocrat, a brief and conventional affair, and the second to a penniless writer she adored.
A remarkable book about a remarkable woman, Patrick Marnham's brilliantly researched and wonderfully impartial book disentangles truth from rumour, highlighting the links between Wesley's real life and her fiction.
"Much of the fascination of Marnham's well-researched and admirably impartial book is that it reveals just how autobiographical Wesley's fiction was"
"[A] fast-paced riveting biography"
"A striking portrait not only of an amazing, if strange, woman but of an entire social class"
"Unpicks the complicated web of deceits and half-truths that surrounded much of her life with wit, patience and skill, providing just the sort of compelling read that Wesley did in her novel"
"This biography is pure pleasure, a riveting, hilarious tragicomedy of manners... Marnham has disentangled truth from rumour, clarified the many connections between Wild Mary's rackety life and Mary Wesley's fiction, and produced a generous, unsentimental and intelligent portrait of a woman's life and times"