Christopher de Bellaigue writes:
Nineteen twenty-seven was a fine year to be Vita Sackville-West. She was 35, attaining what her son would call her ‘tumultuous maturity’, besieged by lovers. Her elegy to Kentish life, The Land, had won the Hawthornden Prize, and she was hesitantly revising her earlier, somewhat churlish opinions of her own talent. She was a muse to perhaps the greatest novelist of the age, Virginia Woolf, who was now setting out to immortalise her in the pages of Orlando. And then this. A book about trudging through Persia, as Iran was then known, with Harold Nicolson, her diplomat and writer husband.