THOSE REMARKABLE CUNARDS: Emerald and Nancy by Daphne Fielding


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Miss Fielding has a chatty and jolly predilection for the last wild waltz of Britain's society pacers before the dreary equalizing after World War II. Her The Duchess of Jermyn Street (1964) gaily followed the career of an ebullient acquaintance of amiable Edward VII: this one deals with the fabulous Emerald (nee Maud Burke of San Francisco) and her ferociously liberated daughter Nancy Cunard, wife (sometime) and daughter, respectively, of Sir Bache Cunard, heir to the shipping fortune. American Maud, adopted by a pecunious male ""guardian"" at the age of twelve, once matured and given the wherewithal to plot an adventurous course, set off for England, marriage, and a career of gathering about her the sprightliest personalities of the day. George Moore adored her: Sir Thomas Beecham's irresistible magnetism had no small part in Maud/Emerald's decision to leave her husband; Prince Edward and Mrs. Simpson were frequent visitors just before the abdication (""Lady Cunard/ Took it hard""). Daughter Nancy, alienated from Mother early on (since Emerald's vocation was certainly not motherhood), was even more flamboyant, driven by an extreme concern for liberation on all fronts. She worked diligently for the Loyalist cause in Spain, the emancipation of the Negro, the freedom of France during the Occupation. She also wrote bitter, shrewdly disciplined poetry, managed a press for belles lettres. Whereas Emerald sparkled, Nancy burned with outraged affront which she nobly extended to all humanity. A gossipy, entertaining account of two far-from-base Cunards.

Pub Date: Aug. 26th, 1968
Publisher: Atheneum