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A Book of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers, By Michael Holroyd

This family is enough to make a biographer despair

Long fascinated by the life story of Eve Fairfax, the fiancée of the old roué Ernest Beckett, Baron of Grimthorpe, and one-time muse to Auguste Rodin, the biographer Michael Holryod has produced a touching story full of human frailty. Beckett was a widower with two children when he became engaged to Fairfax.

But while married to his first wife he'd had an affair with Alice Keppel, who gave birth to his daughter Violet Trefusis. Holroyd's book really belongs to Trefusis, especially after she has an affair with Vita Sackville-West, and he begins thoroughly to enjoy his "biographer's despair" at a "tragic love story ... made chaotic and incredible by the tumult of contradictions". Indeed, so do we, so do we.