by Vita Sackville-West
Pepita tells the extraordinary story of Vita Sackville-West’s grandmother Josefa (Pepita), and her mother Victoria. Josefa, the half-gypsy daughter of an old-clothes pedlar from Malaga, makes her fortune as a dancer in Madrid; soon she is the toast of all Europe. Her affair with a young English attache then sets the scene for a most bizarre family history. After her early death, her daughter Victoria is condemned to an austere convent until the age of eighteen. Socially ostracized without knowing why, she is suddenly whisked off to become mistress of her diplomat father’s Washington household. Eventually this illegitimate half-Spanish waif finds herself the volatile and wayward mistrses of Knole, one of the grandest houses in England. Vita Sackville-West’s fascination with this unlikely inheritance brings her two subjects vividly to life – the wild and mysterious Pepita, and the adored yet impossible Victoria.