The Dragon Lady by Louisa Treger
Opening with the shooting of Lady Virginia ‘Ginie’ Courtauld in her tranquil garden in 1950s Rhodesia, The Dragon Lady tells Ginie’s extraordinary story, so called for the exotic tattoo snaking up her leg. From the glamorous Italian Riviera before the Great War to the Art Deco glory of Eltham Palace in the thirties, and from the secluded Scottish Highlands to segregated Rhodesia in the fifties, the narrative spans enormous cultural and social change. Lady Virginia Courtauld was a boundary-breaking, colourful and unconventional person who rejected the submissive role women were expected to play.
Ostracised by society for being a foreign divorcée at the time of Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson, Ginie and her second husband ,Stephen Courtauld, leave the confines of post-war Britain to forge a new life in Rhodesia, only to find that being progressive liberals during segregation proves mortally dangerous. Many people had reason to dislike Ginie, but who had reason enough to pull the trigger?
Deeply evocative of time and place, The Dragon Lady subtly blends fact and fiction to paint the portrait of an extraordinary woman in an era of great social and cultural change.
Following on from her first book The Lodger published in 2014 I have patiently been waiting for Lousa Treger to release another novel. The wait is over today as The Dragon Lady (Bloomsbury Caravel) is published this very day.
A mix of fiction and non-fiction and a real blend of history, crime and a dash of romance thrown in. The Dragon Lady is the story of a rather intriguing woman Lady Virginia Courtauld. Ginnie as she was more widely known was something of a real intoxicating figure. She was known for the incredible snake tattoo that seemed to be working its way up her leg.
The book begins in 1950’s Rhodesia and Ginnie has been shot in the gardens of her and husband Stephen’s beautiful gardens. The story finds its way from Italy to the rugged Scottish Highlands to the British ruled Rhodesia the world was changing around them during these times but Ginnie was not one to be away from the headlines as she was a woman of immense character and no ordinary woman.
We never quite know who shot Ginnie or why as you read and you do begin to look for clues. It is true she had those who did not like or agree with her thoughts or attitude. While settling in hot climate of Rhodesia both Ginnie and Stephen became outspoken at what they saw as racist behaviour. So could this have been the motive for Ginnie’s shooting in the gardens of their home La Rochelle.
Many who met Ginnie Courtauld certainly would never forget they had met her. A woman of adventure and intrigue. A remarkable woman and an even more remarkable life and when it came to the suffering of native Rhodesia Ginnie steps up to the mark to stand up for them and it is through the pages that Louisa Treger talks of the oppression the natives of this land suffered.
This is beautifully written and told by Louisa Treger and the reader is carried along through the story of Ginnie. This is why I really became a fan of Louisa’s writing after her first novel and is absorbing and captivating and a book I became really attached to and could not put down.
In the 1958 New Year’s Honours Stephen was Knighted. In 1967 and Lady Virginia Courtauld then moved to Jersey were she died in 1972. Their home that was La Rochelle was bequeathed to the National Trust of Rhodesia (Now The National Trust of Zimbabwe) in 1970. If you enjoy books that involve both fiction and non-fiction, then I am delighted to highly recommend The Dragon Lady.
I am delighted to say that I will be interviewing Louisa Treger for a special podcast to talk about The Dragon Lady and Louisa’s writing process.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Caravel for the review copy of The Dragon Lady by Louisa Treger
The Dragon Lady by Louisa Treger is published by Bloomsbury Caravel and published on 13th June 2019. Available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.