Vita Sackville-West's 'Edwardians'
Sebastian stood beside his mother holding the red leather pad, with slits into which cards bearing the names of the guests were inserted. As she stood holding it, he watched his mother's reflection in the mirror. With her fair hair and lively little crumpled face, she looked extraordinarily young for her age as a rule, but now she was busily applying cream and wiping the cosmetics from her face with a handkerchief, at the same time as Button removed the pads from under her hair and laid them on the dressing-table. 'Rats,' her children called them. They were unappetising objects, like last year's bird-nests, hot and stuffy to the head, but they could not be dispensed with, since they provided the foundation on which the innumerable hairpins were to be stuck. It was always a source of great preoccupation with the ladies that no bit of the pad should show through the natural hair. Often they put up a tentative hand to feel, even if in the midst of the most absorbing conversation; and then their faces wore the expression which is seen only on the faces of women whose fingers investigate the back of their heads. Excerpts like the above are really the only thing I could think to recommend reading Sackville-West's The Edwardians about. The book has not much in the way of plot -- almost exactly halfway through, I felt a glimmer of hope as things started happening and it looked like the story was going to pick up. But then, just like when I had a similar moment watching...
Vita Sackville-West's "Edwardians"