“Acid Raine“ was the somewhat unkind name coined by Princess Diana for her stepmother Countess Raine Spencer. Before I read this book – Three Times A Countess – I am ashamed to say I had completely preconceived opinions of Raine Spencer, no doubt fuelled by my guilty secret of sometimes reading the Daily Mail.
However, on an investigation into this most interesting of books ( if you like social history), THREE TIMES A COUNTESS by Tina Gaudoin is a thoroughly good read.
Of course, I love the tasty bits of gossip, I’m sure most people do, but this book shows you so much more. Raine Spencer was not just a very pretty face.
She was highly intelligent, a great beauty, and obviously irresistible to men. Her mother, the larger-than-life Barbara Cartland, did not come from nobility however, she was determined her daughter would marry well, and indeed she did – three times!
Her marriage to Johnny Spencer was a real love match which people at the time found quite extraordinary since it was known he was deeply boring. Raine, eventually step-by-step, won her odious stepchildren over and saved Johnny’s life when he had a massive heart attack.
When Johnny did eventually die, poor Raine was shunted out of Althorp within 24 hours and even refused suitcases to put her clothes in… she left with car loads of bin liners.
Notwithstanding, she was a perfect lady, not revengeful, and always polite, charming and popular. She made a new life for herself, worked as a Director at Harrods, and found a new husband, but no one could replace Johnny, and her last marriage to a French Count did not last very long.
There you have it – the bare bones of her story, but the author Tina Goudoin has added the meat and the fat. Raine Spencer was a dish indeed, but more than that, she illustrates how good manners, charm, intelligence and tenacity can take you to very high places.
The icing on the cake or the gravy for “the dish” is the chapter which deals with the eventual friendship between Princess Diana and Raine and how Raine was able to guide and comfort Princess Diana in her later years. I finished the book wanting to know more, but Raine was the soul of discretion.
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