Exotic, talented, and an inspirer of devoted passion from both sexes, Violet Gordon Woodhouse was one of this century's most gifted musicians, and her salon was a rural match for London's Bloomsbury gatherings. Woodhouse was already showing a precocious musical talent by the time she was seven; in 1888, at the age of sixteen, she was studying with Oscar Beringer, one of the most notable piano scholars of the day. It was in the harpsichord and the early-music revival, however, that she would find her natural metier. Woodhouse's extraordinary ear for tone and phrasing and her instinctive interpretation of music made her salon a cult, a magnet for many of the most important artists of her age.
Her musical genius was equaled by her evident physical allure. She had a horror of convention and lived in a menage a cinq with her husband and three "superhusbands". She also attracted passionate devotion from women, including Adelina Ganz, Ethel Smyth, and Radclyffe Hall. Woodhouse's is an utterly compelling story studded with unexpected subplots, the oddest of which is a double murder that forms the bizarre centerpiece of an extraordinary life.