Bevis Hillier

Spectator books of the year: Bevis Hillier on the closest thing to a British War and Peace

Though artfully plotted and well written, some of Rachel Billington’s early novels, starting with All Things Nice in 1969, had a tinge of Mills & Boon. Reviewing one of them, Auberon Waugh wrote: ‘The hero is described as “smooth and pink”. Good: I hate green, prickly heroes.’

By the time she wrote A Woman’s Age (1979) — a novel covering roughly the same lifespan as that of her mother, Elizabeth Longford — Billington had matured into about the same standing as Elizabeth Jane Howard.

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