Rachel Trethewey’s book is old-fashioned in its Woman’s Own-like kindness. She either does not know, or chooses to omit, many things about her subjects, including some nasty bits. But no account of such people as these can fail to grip. The message of the girls’ experience is that children should be thankful to have obscure parents.
Extreme fame is a kiss of death, which afflicted too many of those around the Greatest Englishman.