Guide The Temptress: The scandalous life of Alice, Countess de Janzé

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Mar 06, Charles Inglin rated it really liked it. The story of one of the more infamous members of the Happy Valley set in colonial Kenya. Born Alice Silverthorne in America, she inherited a vast fortune. Her mother died young. Relatives gained custody of her from her not very suitable father. She married Frederic Comte de Jantze, who remained loyal to her even after affairs and divorce. She moved to a farm in Kenya with him, leaving her two daughters to be raised in Paris by her aunt and mother-in-law.

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Meeting Raymond de Trafford she began an The story of one of the more infamous members of the Happy Valley set in colonial Kenya. Meeting Raymond de Trafford she began an affair, divorced Frederic, in expectation of marrying de Trafford. De Trafford's Catholic family threatened to cut him off if he married Alice. Alice, who probably suffered from mental illness, shot de Trafford and herself at the railroad station in Paris.

She was charged with attempted murder, but was given a very light sentence four months after claiming it was a crime passionel. She was for a time banned from returning to Kenya.

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She also had an affair in Kenya with Joss Hay, the 22nd Earl of Errol, the victim in a notorious murder in The murder was pinned on Jock Delves-Broughton, whose wife was laving him for Joss. The murder has also been blamed on British intelligence, who allegedly offed him because of fascist leanings. The author, whose mother was a settler in Kenya and knew Alice, makes a fairly convincing case that Alice was the actual culprit.

Not long after Broughton's acquittal Alice committed suicide. She left instructions that instead of a funeral they should hold a cocktail party at the cemetery. There are differing accounts as to whether that actually happened. One isn't certain whether she was a villainess or a victim. Or a bit of both. A great book, a quick and easy read with fascinating subject matter.

I came to this book because I was keen to read more about the characters of Happy Valley in the s and 30s and Alice is one of the most fascinating, and tragic, so far. I'm not swayed by the author's explanation of the near century ol A great book, a quick and easy read with fascinating subject matter. I'm not swayed by the author's explanation of the near century old murder mystery but it may be plausible, we may never know the truth. Oct 21, Jennifer rated it it was ok Shelves: This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Alice is certainly an interesting and strange person, so reading about her life was definitely entertaining.

The title doesn't lie; she was scandalous, more scandalous than I anticipated based on the description of the book. Personally, I found Alice to be a disgusting human being. She was incredibly selfish; abandoning her devoted first husband and her two young daughters. She was self-indulgent to an extreme; flitting around the world whenever the fancy struck her. She kept a lion and an all Alice is certainly an interesting and strange person, so reading about her life was definitely entertaining.

She kept a lion and an alligator as "pets". And these are the "little" things that she's done. Alice was obviously mentally ill, and if she lived in today's society, she would more than likely be medicated and be able to function as a normal, productive member of society.

That said, I don't buy the author's assertion that Alice was responsible for Joss's murder. The author assigned thought-processes to Alice that are absolute impossible to confirm or refute. And while Spicer uses Joss's mistress and Alice's motive, that just doesn't make sense. Joss had many, many mistresses through the years. And Alice herself has had numerous affairs, and was romantically involved with someone else at the time of the murder. Was Alice's behavior around the time of the murder strange?

The Temptress

Yes; but she also was mentally ill and committed suicide shortly after the murder. The author's bias towards Alice as the murderer was evident throughout the book, coloring the readers ability to draw their own, unbiased opinions about the motives and actions of the people surrounding Joss's murder. An interesting read, but ruined by the author's obvious bias. Feb 05, Julie rated it really liked it. This is another book about one of the characters in the unsolved murder of Joss hay earl of Erroll, she had been his mistress on and off for years.

They lived in the "Happy Valley" region of Kenya. The authors mother was friends with Alice the Countess De Janze and the author spent years interviewing and visiting people of that era to get their sides of the story. A lot of the characters had died early but i This is another book about one of the characters in the unsolved murder of Joss hay earl of Erroll, she had been his mistress on and off for years.

A lot of the characters had died early but its fasinating at the end of the book when he recounts his meetings with a lot of the witnesses to the original trial. I have always thought she was an obvious suspect to the murder being a women scorned but at the trial suspicion focussed on the husband of Joss's present mistress sir henry Jock delves Broughton, he was later found innocent and the murder never solved but the author does come up with some interesting facts and new evidence.

Alice was an animal lover and collected various wild animals as pets, Kenya at that time was still an untamed wilderness with plenty of scope for adventure, she travelled widely in Africa on various safaris. She did suffer from mental illness a form of what we would call today bipolar disorder, which obviously affected her life and actions, in the photos the author included you could see she was a very attractive woman and why men would fall for her looks,but she does come across as rather a sad needy person who had problems and couldnt find her way in life.

Feb 22, Lynn rated it it was ok. Received this book yesterday and I knew when I saw it it wasn't going to be an in-depth, fleshed out read. I started reading it when I went to bed and after a couple of hours I was already halfway through it. It just isn't bringing the people in the book to life for me, I feel no connection to them at all. I'm not sure I'll be able to finish this as it isn't holding my interest at all.. It also omits any insight into the volatile relationship between her parents and the night that her mother was locked out in the cold by her father which ultimately contributed to her death at a very young age.

It also mentions an "incident" which prompted Alice's family to remove her from her fathers custody, but gives us no more information than that!


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You are left wondering It's too much of an easy read for me. I like to be given much more detail than is available in this book. It also seems to focus more on the murder of Joss than giving us a true autobiographical account of Alice's life. That's not what I bought it for! The devil's in the detail.. Good for a read at the beach..


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Jan 20, Acatraps rated it liked it. I was given this book at Christmas and having already read White Mischief, which is a different perspective on the same true murder mystery, I was intrigued. This is a very easy read. The story focused on the interesting life of Alice de Janze and why the author sees her as the prime suspect in the unsolved murder of Lord Joss Erroll in Karen, Nairobi. The author has obviously done his research and managed to back up his assertions almost convincingly.

However the author seemed torn between tel I was given this book at Christmas and having already read White Mischief, which is a different perspective on the same true murder mystery, I was intrigued.

However the author seemed torn between telling the full story of the character and some sort of duty to her surviving offspring. While attempting to outline the scandalous behaviour of the Happy Valley crowd and Alice in particular, it felt as if the author was keen to show the more human, loving mother side of Alice, that did not appear to be in her character at all. Having said that, it may indicate more about me not wanting to accept the many facets of Alice's interesting character.

Overall, I felt the story was a little simplistic and perhaps too dismissive of other scenarios to the murder in order to propel the author's version of events as the one true story. It is definitely worth reading if you have also read White Mischief. If you've read "Out of Africa" and other books about the English in Kenya in the first half of the 20th century, you'll know something of the background setting to at least part of the life of Alice de Janze. Alice was an American who married into a title, had children she preferred to leave with others to look after, and who became a central figure of the amoral Happy Valley community of expats settling in Africa.

The Temptress | Book by Paul Spicer | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster UK

But was she a murderess? This is the question Paul Spicer examines in his fascinati If you've read "Out of Africa" and other books about the English in Kenya in the first half of the 20th century, you'll know something of the background setting to at least part of the life of Alice de Janze. This is the question Paul Spicer examines in his fascinating and detailed examination of Alice's life and the many characters who passed through it. More than a few of the men were her lovers. The still unsolved murder of one of those men, Joss Hay, Earl of Erroll, in provides the focus for Spicer's book.

He writes from the advantage of some family connections to the people of the Happy Valley set, and from his extensive research and interviews with other key individuals or their offspring. If you've read or seen the movie version of "White Mischief" you will know something of the story. But if you read "The Temptress" you'll discover much more of the story.

The Temptress: The Scandalous Life of Alice de Janzé and the Mysterious Death of Lord Erroll

It's an enthralling read. Sep 16, Suzy rated it liked it Recommends it for: The second in my recent, accidental, series of books now I've picked up a third! It was written better than The Bolter, in my mind, and included a famous mystery: Paul Spicer, whose mother was a confidante of Alice's, used personal letters and his own extensive research to piece together what really happened that fateful evening. He brings to life an era of unimaginable wealth and indulgence, where people changed bed partners as easily as they would order a cocktail, and where jealousy and hidden passions brewed.

At the heart of The Temptress is Alice, whose seductive charms no man could resist, and whose unfulfilled quest for love ended in her own suicide at age forty-two. They farmed their estates, partied the night away and extra-marital affairs were the norm. Her marriage had never been strong and Alice was readily tempted into affairs with Josslyn Hay and others.

Hay — later to be Lord Erroll — was murdered in his car in the early hours of the morning and the husband of his then mistress stood trial for his murder, but Spicer presents an impressive argument that the killer was in fact Alice. The research is impressive, ranging as it does across three continents, several decades and a time of war.

It's worn lightly though, with the book reading more like a good story with added mystery elements.