Lyndsy Spence got in touch with me after I reviewed A Pearl For My Mistress last week, and I’ve agreed to do an author spotlight post for her. She has a new novel out and will also be publishing her fifth biography soon.
Over to you, Lyndsy.
I am an historian and author who specialises in writing about aristocratic (and badly behaved) women from the 20th century. The period between the World Wars fascinates me, as it was a time of great progression in women’s lives, and although society was yet to catch up, it seemed women were beginning to live as they pleased. With period dramas such as Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs gaining great popularity one would be forgiven for thinking upper-class ladies sat around in their finery, drinking tea, and fainting at a hint of scandal. However, in reality many were quite rebellious, even if their shortcomings were swept under the carpet. I love to write about high society women who dabbled in politics, who had love affairs with whom they pleased, and who laughed in the face of tradition. My biographical subjects include a courtesan who became a viscountess and confidante of Winston Churchill, a society girl who turned her back on a gilded life and was imprisoned during WW2, a peeress who played a part during Ireland’s Civil War, a wine heiress who buried four husbands, a debutante who beguiled a prime minister and became privy to state secrets, and a chorus girl who married 2 lords, 2 film stars, and a prince.
I am the author of four (soon-to-be five) biographies- they are The Mitford Girls’ Guide to Life; Mrs Guinness: The Rise and Fall of Diana Mitford; Margaret Lockwood: Queen of the Silver Screen; The Mistress of Mayfair: Men, Money and the Marriage of Doris Delevingne. I have written a volume of pen portraits, entitled These Great Ladies: Peeresses and Pariahs, and I edit The Mitford Society annuals. The Mistress of Mayfair has been optioned by Atlantic Screen Productions and will be adapted into a TV series. I have also written for BBC News Magazine, Social and Personal, Vintage Life, Daily Express, Silhouette, and The Lady. My forthcoming book, The Grit in the Pearl, is a biography on Margaret, Duchess of Argyll – most famous for being Deb of the Year in 1930 and for her divorce from the Duke of Argyll in which her nude photos were used as evidence and over eighty-eight men were listed as her lovers.
House of Lies is my first fiction book. I drew on the aforementioned when creating my characters, and also my fascination with houses and the energies they hold. The main characters of my book are George and Marina Greenwood, and their only child, Daphne. It focuses on the struggles Marina faces as an upper-class wife and mother during the late 1930s, leading into WW2; her background haunts her, and I suppose she has what we would today call Imposter Syndrome. There are also some unresolved issues relating to her husband and child, to whom she is distant and with whom she struggles to bond, and that opens up a Pandora’s box of challenges. Daphne herself is in her early teens and struggling with her identity and relationships to those closest to her. And George, the product of abusive parents, is forever trying to please Marina, and yet he harbours a possessive and deceitful side. Their environment is a stage for which they play their parts, and yet it is a place where they can hide their secrets. When war is declared it upsets everything, and the past begins to creep into their present lives.
It’s 1920, and England is recovering from war. Evangelina Belfry, a woman of questionable reputation and morals, has fallen down the stairs at her home, breaking her neck and dying. Her daughter Marina shows up to discover Evangelina’s landlord, George Greenwood, on the scene. He says he discovered Evangelina at the bottom of the stairs, but in fact he was with her when they struggled and she fell. Guilty, he runs from the house and stumbles into his sister Louisa and her partner. He tells them he killed Evangelina, and they agree to provide an alibi. But betrayal is afoot, and they then set out to blackmail George, bleeding him dry of what little money he makes as a banker. By 1938, to save her from an indecent fate, George has married Evangelina’s daughter Marina, but there is no love in the marriage. Marina is frigid, and loathes most things and most people, including George’s controlling mother Sybil, who lives with them at High Greenwood, the family estate George has inherited, but now cannot afford to run. Marina writes romance novels, saving the money in the hopes of leaving George, but once she gives birth to their daughter, Daphne, escape seems more and more remote. Cold and unmaternal, Marina sends Daphne to boarding school at the age of eleven. Marina simply wants her gone and convinces George this is necessary for health reasons. But at boarding school, Daphne meets Celia Hartley, who’s loud, brash, and starts a volatile friendship with Daphne, that will change both girls’ lives. What’s more, with war looming and George enlisted in the army, Daphne and Marina are left on their own, as the past comes back to haunt them and the future seems uncertain.
Catch up with Lyndsy and find out more about her books at: