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“Life is divided between books read and books to be read. It’s reassuring.
Whatever happens in life, there’s always this comfort – books.”

Anne Bass

Our pick for this first read is ‘The Secret Life of the Savoy’.
The story of the Savoy Hotel’s founders, through a century of luxury.


“For The Gondoliers-themed birthday dinner, the hotel obligingly flooded the courtyard to conjure the Grand Canal of Venice.  Dinner was served on a silk-lined floating gondola, real swans were swimming in the water, and as a final flourish, a baby elephant borrowed from London Zoo pulled a five-foot high birthday cake.”

In 1889,  Victorian Impresario  Richard D’Oyly Carte, opened The Savoy. Britain’s first luxury hotel.

Allowing the rich to live like royalty, it attracted glamour, scandal and a cast of eccentric characters, with the D’Oyly Carte family elevated to a unique vantage point on high society.

‘The Secret Life of the Savoy’  tells  their story through three generations :  Richard [the founder, who died in the same year as Queen Victoria],  Rupert [ a moderniser who saw the hotel through two world wars and the roaring twenties],  and Bridget [ a Queen-like figure who was one of mid-20th century Britain’s wealthiest women].

The book explores  their roller-coaster achievements,  lifestyles and private lives, through the prism of this iconic hotel and its many distinguished guests – from Oscar Wilde to the Beatles.

[P]2020 Headline Publishing Group.


A thoroughly entertaining account of some of London’s most treasured history, with its beloved, The Savoy at the heart of a fascinating and delightful plot.  Bravo to Olivia Williams and her fantastically colourful cast of characters.

Lady Kinvara Balfour,  director and producer


A new book by Olivia Williams is to be welcomed as a reminder that “at their height”, the D’Oyly Cartes ranked as “the great impresarios and hoteliers in the world” – as dynamic, innovative and powerful in their way as any of today’s media dynasties.

Daily Telegraph