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August 1 2020
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“All her energy went into impressing her father, but she never quite managed it.”

London, 1990. I have just arrived at a dinner in a newly opened Soho restaurant with people I barely know. I see a long table rammed with the deafening confidence of entitled rich young things. I sit down and immediately notice the atmosphere radiating around an attractive dark-haired girl. “Hi, I’m Ghislaine,” she says, with an electric smile that wants you to like her. But I already know who she is: the youngest and most favored child of the publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, an Oxford graduate and the toast of social London.

As a naïve 25-year-old who had just started working in the City, I watched more than I spoke that night. Which was fine because Ghislaine barely drew breath. She was loud and great fun; dressed in black shorts, sheer tights and a top hat, with a touch of gold, possibly a scarf. She looked naughty and sexy, but tomboyish too, markedly at odds with the Dianaesque taffeta femininity around us. She was intriguing, an anomaly. After that I became a keen Ghislaine-spotter.

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