Nigel & Caroline Webb --> reviewed by Colin Fleming -->

As an ardent reader of Jeevian literature—those sorts of parlor novels where a crisp and efficient butler repeatedly saves his master’s hide—I’ve often wondered if the mental acuities of real-life servants were central to their employer’s success. I confess to liking the idea—the heroic, string-pulling majordomo for whom the job well done was its own reward, the onus of discretion and undetection being a special challenge of the game.

Any literary work that features a butler is apt to feature a bumbler, and this historical account of the Earl of Kinnoull’s travails as a diplomat in Constantinople—with...

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