cover image The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves

The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves

Andrew Lownie. Pegasus, $32 (496p) ISBN 978-1-64313-791-9

Literary agent Lownie (John Buchan: The Presbyterian Cavalier) delivers a juicy dual biography of Lord Louis “Dickie” Mountbatten and his wife Edwina Ashley. The son of an Austrian-born prince, Mountbatten fell for Edwina, heiress to her grandfather Ernest Cassel’s banking fortune, after serving in the Royal Navy during WWI. Their 1922 nuptials were heralded by British tabloids as “the wedding of the century,” and their country mansion became a gathering place for London high society. The couple agreed to an open marriage in 1931, and Edwina had relationships with Grenadian singer Leslie “Hutch” Hutchinson, Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and others. Mountbatten “accepted his wife’s wanderlust” and had his own long-running affair with French socialite Yola Letellier, according to Lownie, who also delves into rumors that Mountbatten was bisexual and frequently propositioned young sailors under his command. During WWII, the couple found “new purpose” in the fight against Hitler, with Mountbatten taking command of Allied forces in Southeast Asia and Edwina overseeing the nursing division of St. John Ambulance. Later, they served as the last viceroy and vicereine of British India. Lownie amasses a wealth of material, though the narrative is hampered by choppy writing. Still, readers will be astonished by the intrigues and accomplishments of this remarkable couple. [em](Sept.) [/em]