Having read ‘A Murder On Mustique’ (and goodness! I must get around to reviewing that one!), which is a murder mystery peopled by characters only thinly veiled from the real inhabitants of the island, including Anne Glenconner herself – I was intrigued to find out more about the real woman behind this charmingly-written book.
To give you a little flavour, here is some information from the ‘About the Author’ section on Amazon:
‘Lady Glenconner was born Lady Anne Coke in 1932, the eldest daughter of the 5th Earl of Leicester. A Maid of Honour at the Queen’s Coronation, she married Lord Glenconner in 1956. They had 5 children together of whom 3 survive. In 1958 she and her husband began to transform the island of Mustique into a paradise for the rich and famous. They granted a plot of land to Princess Margaret who built her favourite home there. She was appointed Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret in 1971 and kept this role – accompanying her on many state occasions and foreign tours – until her death in 2002.’Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I picked this book up after reading Murder on Mustique, curious to know more about the real life of a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret.
In fact, Anne Coke (pronounced ‘Cook’), was a childhood friend of both princesses – their father, King George VI, was a frequent visitor to the family home, Holkham Hall, which stands close to the royal residence, Sandringham. With such a unique background, how could Anne’s story be anything other than extraordinary?
As it turns out, her life story is beyond extraordinary – a glimpse into a world of privilege, of eccentricity, of stiff upper lips to survive highs and lows beyond anything I expected. A truly spectacular tale, all the more remarkable for being a true accounting, offered up by the lady herself, and not a random biographer.
Another reviewer accuses the tale of being ‘dispiriting’, reading about Lady Anne’s ‘ghastly dysfunctional’ social class – people who apparently have everything and yet often end up destroying their own lives. I disagree: to me, much of the dysfunctionality evident is more about era than simply about class. It’s a sad indictment of the prejudices and expectations people were subjected to, and about the self-inflicted harm done to generations of people who lived through the war, and immediate post-war years.
If nothing else, this book goes to prove the adage that money can’t buy happiness, although there are many joyous tales, and the author succeeds in keeping an upbeat tone throughout her very matter-of-fact telling of a tumultuous range of events and emotions.
If you want an insight into the realities of living through the worst – and best – of the last century, you won’t go wrong with this book. ‘My Extraordinary Life’ is no empty tagline.
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