A couple of weeks after I finished Take Six Girls/The Six, my beloved dog Louis died. He was eighteen (Italian greyhounds can be wonderfully long-lived) and I had acquired him as an unwanted show puppy. I spent his last day holding him, giving him water through a dropper and taking him outside for a last look at the sun.
So I dedicated the book to him. It was very typical of his cool, mysterious temperament that he waited for me to finish before he died.
‘The well-beloved’ was of course the epithet attached to Louis XV, whom Nancy Mitford wrote about in her marvellous biography of Madame de Pompadour (and had rather a crush on; like all the Frenchmen that she wrote about, she implicitly compared him with her own lover Gaston Palewski).