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Three Times a Countess

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9780349134826

Price: £25

ON SALE: 22nd September 2022

Genre: Biography & True Stories / Biography: General

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Debutante of the year. Able politician. Femme fatale. Evil stepmother. Astute businesswomen. Just a smattering of the many labels attached to the irrepressible Raine Spencer: Countess, socialite and stepmother to Diana, Princess of Wales. But who was the real Raine? What was hidden behind the immaculately manicured and coiffed public façade?

From upper-middle-class Berkshire schoolgirl, to Westminster councillor, Countess and perhaps most famously, wife of Earl Spencer, Three Times a Countess recounts Raine’s scintillating, sometimes scandalous life, demystifying her scathing tabloid reputation and revealing how, after a tumultuous relationship with the Princess, she became Diana’s closest confidante.

To her friends, Raine was shrewd, witty and loyal. To her enemies, pushy, overly flamboyant and ruthless. Whichever side you were on there was one certainty – Raine was not devoid of character or personal strength. Indeed, it was clear from the get-go that as the daughter of prolific novelist Barbara Cartland, Raine was destined for a glamorous life. From winning Deb of the Year in 1947 and then ‘Bride of the Year’ on her first marriage to Gerald Legge; from a career spanning local politics, to dealing with the fortunes of Althorp; from taking on the Spencer family estate to a board position at Harrods – it was evident that Raine was possessed of both charm and and intellect. Yet she could not sway the media, who insisted on pitting her against her stepdaughter at every turn. Their fractious relationship, which reconciled towards the end of the Princess’ life, provided solace for both women and yet another excuse for frenzied newspaper coverage. Perhaps most crucially, Raine was a vital witness during the inquest into the Princess’ death, providing a gripping, unexpected and moving testimony.

Gaudoin’s vibrant history of the Countess sets the record straight once and for all, drawing insight from those who knew Raine most. A societal whirl of London Seasons, marshalling mamas, adulterous affairs, family feuds and more, Three Times a Countess also offers a gripping commentary on high society: a must-read for those fascinated by social history, the inner workings of the Royal Family, or what life was really like for Diana behind closed doors.

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