The Tatler reviews ‘From the Ganges to the Thames’ by Sonia Melchett

The Tatler have reviewed From the Ganges to the Thames by Sonia Melchett in their June issue, published by Quartet Books 12 May 2016.

ThFrom the Ganges to the Thamesis entrancing memoir by Sonia Melchett opens with a vivid portrait of her colonial upbringing. She was born in India, in 1925, to a tiger-shooting Army doctor, and her first memory was of being carried on his shoulders through a plague of locusts. Danger and drama stalked her childhood. There were snakes in the cot and jackals at the door – she even witnessed the theoretically banned suttee, or self-immolation by a widow.


She married Lord Melchett, the dashing industrialist, in 1947, and the couple moved to Oscar Wilde’s house on Tite Street – which is where she established her reputation as a society hostess. She lunched with Churchill, danced with Prince Philip and swam with Stephen Ward. Melchett died in 1973; Sonia’s second husband is the novelist Andrew Sinclair.


There are some minor indiscretions (she likes naked waterskiing and once stole Graham Greene’s personal copy of The Oxford Book of English Verse) and major incidents – a victim of sex abuse by an Indian retainer, she dealt with it in a no-nonsense way. ‘Sonia has a good brain and should do well in life if she doesn’t decide to become a social butterfly,’ her headmistress observed. Melchett’s splendid memoir proves that you can well in life and be a social butterfly. Hats off to her.

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