Monday, 28 May 2012

Book #49 The Queen Of Whale Cay by Kate Summerscale

The Queen Of Whale Cay

The Queen Of Whale Cay a Sunday Times bestseller by the author of The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher Kate Summerscale, tells the story of "Joe" Carstairs an old fashioned British eccentric, a wealthy lesbian who dressed largely as a man, who lived it up in Paris high society and went on to race boats  before buying her own island in the Bahamas, and becoming its ruler; this book  first caught my attention when it was chosen by Sue Perkins on 'My Life In Books' last year.

Like The Suspicions of Mr Whicher this non fiction is a very entertaining instead of dull affair. It makes you rather sad that people who lead these extraordinary, varied, lives don't seem to exist any more. With Joe's fervent believe that her doll, Lord Tod Wadley is a real boy, I felt that had Joe Carstairs existed in this day and age she would have been labelled mentally ill and dulled by medication. The age where a person was allowed to be a "character"  seems to have passed, and people seem to have a homogenised idea on "right" behaviour.

Though this is a very competent and engaging biography I felt that perhaps I would have preferred to see Joe Carstairs story laid out as a novel, like David Peace did with Brian Clough or as Hilary Mantel is doing with Thomas Cromwell now. I think there was certainly enough material in her love affairs alone to make an amazing novel.

Good on a sunny afternoon and worth a look 7/10

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