Ms. Summerscale has done an awful lot of research on a somewhat obscure subject, to put together a fascinating potrait of such an eccentric character. I confess I skimmed through the boat racing details, though they are an important part of the story.
I picked this biography up at a used book sale not knowing anything about the subject, Joe Carstairs, or the author. I quite liked it. Usually I get 3/4 of the way into a biography and lose momentum; I finished this in a plane ride. Carstairs was an intersting woman who seemed to have made an impression on many people she met. Summerscale obviously did a lot of research and gives a lot of solid information without burdening the reader. I've never read such a slim biography that still managed to convey so much. It's interesting that Summerscale was spurred to write this after she was assigned to write Carstair's obituary - this reads something like an extended obituary for a major paper.