Reviews

  • "This is the first time [the Olivier sisters] have had a biography to themselves, and a very fine job Sarah Watling makes of it thoroughly fascinating... This book is interesting on a dozen levels."

    Lynn Barber, Daily Telegraph
  • "Four remarkable sisters born at the end of the 19th century, and I didn’t know about any of them before reading this utterly absorbing book in which their whole lives are laid before us. Their story has opened my eyes to whole new areas of early 20th-century British life."

    Ysenda Maxton Graham, *Book of the Week*, Daily Mail
  • "In this compelling biography Sarah Watling tells [the Olivier sisters’] tale for the first time. It is the story of the end of Victorianism and the birth of the modern age. It is also, grippingly, the story of the early feminist movement, and a vital contribution to the construction of an alternative women’s history… [Watling] is quite brilliant."

    Guardian
  • "A story of four girls rebelling against Edwardian stuffiness is vividly told… in this thoughtful, compassionate biography… I found much to celebrate and admire here."

    Laura Freeman, The Times
  • "If the Bloomsberries lived in squares and loved in triangles, the Olivier sisters lived in tents and loved in Venn diagrams… Sarah Watling’s riveting book… is a noble endeavour and a laudable achievement."

    Frances Wilson, Literary Review
  • "This marvellous biography… shines a light on these four fascinating women [the Olivier sisters] – and the dramatic, pioneering lives they led."

    Tatler *This summer’s best new books and holiday reads*
  • "Watling vividly conjures up the sisters, but ultimately this is an exploration of the difficulty of knowing anyone truly, and how sisterhood makes it harder still… it renders them inspiring without flattening them into the bland ‘rebel girls’ stereotypes currently in vogue."

    Mail on Sunday
  • "Sarah Watling’s expertly crafted portrait of the lives of the Olivier sisters manages to draw out of the archives not only vital threads of English cultural history but a sense of the risk of new biographical subjects being seen and heard for the first time. Watling is a highly sensitive curator and she handles her subjects with exquisite care, folding them back into the environments which made them and allowing us to visit them there. I read Noble Savages and I was reminded of the thrill of first reading the writings of ethnographer and explorer, Mary Kingsley."

    Sally Bayley
  • "Sarah Watling puts four remarkable twentieth-century lives in the spotlight with sympathy and lightly-worn scholarship. What trailblazers they were!"

    Virginia Nicholson
  • "Taking intriguing extracts from [the Olivier sisters’] diaries and letters, Watling’s book unspools their complicated lives and loves."

    Sunday Express