A riveting memoir from Lady Trumpington, doyenne of the House of Lords, taking her from 1920s London to the beginning of her political career in the early 1960s. In this witty, candid and utterly fascinating memoir, Baroness Trumpington looks back on her long and remarkable life.
The daughter of an officer in the Bengal Lancers and an American heiress, she was born in 1922 into a world of privilege and luxury. But her mother lost most of her inheritance in the Wall Street Crash and the family retrenched from Mayfair to Sandwich, in Kent, where her mother became a succesful society interior decorator.
Leaving school at 15, without ever taking an exam, the young Jean Campbell-Harris was sent to Paris to study art and both French and German, but two years later, with the outbreak of the Second World War, she became a land girl - on a farm owned by Lloyd George, a family friend. She loathed the outdoor life and soon changed direction, putting her German to good use by joining naval intelligence at Bletchley Park, where she stayed for the rest of the war.
After the war was over, she went to New York and worked on Madison Avenue as an advertising copywriter. It was in New York that she met her husband, William Barker, a history teacher. They returned to England and married in 1954, where Barker became first a master and then headmaster at the Leys School in Cambridge.
In this witty and winning memoir, Jean Trumpington recalls her early life, growing up in London and Kent in the 1920s and 30s, her wartime experiences, her life in the world of Madison Avenue's 'mad men' and - perhaps the happiest period of her life - her years as a headmaster's wife. The book ends with her embarking on what was to become a distinguished political career. It is vivid, forthright, and funny, and will appeal to readers who enjoyed the Duchess of Devonshire's Wait for Me as well as to the many people who warmed to Lady Trumpington after her triumphant appearance on Have I Got News for You.
©2014 Jean Trumpington (P)2014 Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd
"As I read the book I kept thinking of Miranda Hart. But in the end it is not the wonderful comedy I remember but her determination to keep going, even when in her eighties her Battersea flat burnt down. “I always tried my very hardest because I felt so lucky,” she explains, but the Baroness made her own luck." (Saturday Review, The Times)
"What a joy this book is. Trumpers is irrepressibly naughty, permanently mischievous and hasn’t finished yet…But this memoir isn’t just a fascinating, frequently hilarious insight into the life of a force of nature. It is also, despite itself, an examination of a particular generation of women, trained for not much except marriage and cocktail parties, and of how, given the right spirit, some of these women derailed in the best possible way and went on to have wonderful adventures." (Sunday Times, Culture, India Knight)
"This is the stuff of Evelyn Waugh and F Scott Fitzgerald except that Lady Trumpington lived it for real and to the full….However for all the giddy lurching from poverty to wealth, swanky parties to lonely digs there emerges a poignantly touching tale of a fiercely intelligent woman searching for her place in the world. That she finally finds it is a source of delight…A book never had a better title." (Daily Express, Caroline Jowett)
"..exuberant, engaging and very funny book" (John Preston, Daily Mail)
"Coming Up Trumps is an absolute riot, a brisk trot through the life of a feisty, fun-loving aristocrat who knew anyone who was anyone in the last century…a colourful life and her equally colourful, life affirming, gloriously funny autobiography." (The Sunday Express Charlotte Heathcote)
"…and now, in her 92nd year, publishing her memoirs, which are as welcome as they are overdue…there is something exhilaratingly sane about a stream of off-the-cuff anecdotes and reminiscences at the end of a long life. Shut your eyes – this is one of the acid tests of a good memoir – and you can almost hear the baroness in full flow, holding forth over a whisky in a bar the House of Lords…Trumpington is a splendidly self-depracating raconteur, with some funny stories to share." (Sunday Telegraph David Robson)
"Characteristically trenchant and witty, the indomitable Baroness Trumpington’s view of her long well-lived life is a joy to read." (Choice Magazine)
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I found this book a delight to listen to. Sort of reminded me of the stories my British grandmother us to tell. Jean Trumpington is in her nineties and tells the story of her long and remarkable life. She was daughter of an officer in the Bengal Lancers and an American heiress. Jean Campbell-Harris was born into a world of privilege, but the Wall Street crash of 1929 entirely wiped out her mother’s fortune. Leaving boarding school at fifteen she was sent to Paris to study French and German. At the outbreak of WWII she returned to England and became a land girl on the farm of Lloyd George. She then joined naval intelligence at Bletchley Park where she stays until the end of the war. After the War she lived in Paris with the family of the England’s Ambassador to France. She then went to New York City to work on Madison Avenue. She met many of the prominent families of U.S. wealth and politics. While in the U.S. she met her future husband British historian Alan Barker. The married in 1954 and had a son Alan, she lived the life of a headmaster’s wife before embarking on a distinguished political career, as Cambridge city councilor, mayor of Cambridge, and served in two conservative governments first as Parliamentary under-secretary of State in department of Health and Social Security and second as Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. In the 1980’s she was made a life peer and becoming Baroness Trumpington of Sandwich. She still serves in the House of Lords. Baroness Trumpington is forthright, witty and opinionated. The stories read as the who’s who of the era. The book is a wonderfully readable account of a well lived interesting life. Sarah Badel did a marvelously job narrating the book.
Simple and punchy writing and very well read.
The David Niven books and the Dirk Bogarde books - entirely different life styles but a similarly dry and self deprecating sense of humour shared by all three characters.
She IS Baroness Trumpington in the way that she reads it.
No, it was rather one to be savoured and even reread.
"Galloping Through It"
If there were more details in the book, then probably yes. Well read though.
She has done far too much to squeeze into one autobiography and as a result everything is skimmed over far too briefly to make it interesting or engaging. She is v honest about her life and what she has experienced but I gave up as it was a mad rush over the surface. V frustrating.
"Persevere and you'll be rewarded..."
At first I thought I'd struggle to tolerate this narration - it was like being stuck next to a stranger, maybe on a long flight, who goes on...and on...and on about themselves...dropping name after name. Then I realised how fascinating Baroness Trumpington's life has been, and the narrator's delivery suits the spirit of the age in which she grew up. But I wonder whether this time the written page would be better.
Wonderfully effervescent if deliberately superficial at times. There is a great feeling that there could have been a lot more in terms of scurrilous gossip, but Lady T is carefully discreet about others whilst being starchily honest about herself. She's led an amazing life and her zest and enthusiasm is wonderful. Really recommended. Superb narration is the icing on the cake and injects fantastic colour and feeling to the Baroness's words.
truly inspirational woman
does not compare to anything i have read yet absolutely brilliant
she tells the story in a most inspiring way
yes but didn't have time to took me a couple of days
"for the older listener i think"
struggled to finish this but i think it would be great for the older listener. I have recommended this to Aunts etc.
"Deeply Superficial: Two Fingers, No Trumps"
A long life of privilege and good fortune, all recorded by a ghost writer at a breathtaking pace. The faux self effacing tone didn't fool me for a second and betrays itself over and again anyway. Homeless for a night prior to your society wedding were you Jean? Don't think so love. Her pleas of impecunity become wearing too.
Such a pity - this lady has lived through seismic events in our nation, many of which she witnessed first hand, due in part to the well-connected contacts that her background has afforded her. There is however, so little detail given that one gets no sense of this. "First I did this, and then I did that; now, moving on...". It is in the detail that is the fascination lies.
Unusually, this is an audio book to which I won't give a second listen. The reading by Sarah Badel is very good though.
"A light-weight, mildly interesting memoir."
The author participated in interesting times and in socially privileged position offering a rare perspective. I had hoped for an entertaining, insightful social and political account. Unfortunately, she has chosen to write as if composing an amusing after-dinner extended speech. Or maybe an fantasy interview with Parky playing to the Tory gallery. Loads of anecdotes designed to project herself as a fun-loving, spirited, gutsy woman with the right stuff (quality will out, sort-of-thing is the implication) all designed to amuse rather than illuminate the milieu she's a product of.
Consequently, although you gain fleeting snapshots of a fascinating bygone society, the impression gained is of skimming across the surface. Very little insight into the personal assumptions which informed her veiw-point (personal and political) is given. You are left having to read-between the lines. I found this frustrating as an historical account and a suspiciously-guarded self-appraisal which I suppose should only be anticipated from a politician.
I was left with the impression that this was the life of a natural networker launched from episode to episode by dint of the elevated privileged set she moved in. That could have been riveting stuff in which the transition from pre-war deb to Thatcherite politician illuminated a Britain in radical transition. It doesn't.
I hate what the Right has done to my country since the war, so I would be genuinely interested to hear how this particular Tory creature was formed. But this memoir gives nothing away. Instead it's a life of ultimately less-than-rivetting incident which began to bore me by the quarter-way mark. Worse, the false self-effacment implicit in the jolly tone and constant referencing of the author's gusto, became really wearing, pretty fast for me.
Jean Trumpington's obviously a capable woman, however at the end of her memoir I'm left feeling little-the-wiser about the true nature of her personal trip through life. I felt this book was ultimately window-dressing. Probably calculated to make her a few bob and help build her media image (she likes appearing on TV she says). I suppose it could easily have been ghosted as type of celeb-tome.
No. I thought her performance here was spot-on, though. I think she got it pitch-perfect.
Yes. Although you don't get a truly detailed, insightful view of the author's milieu, pre- and post-war) it really was a different world which is tremendously interesting and entertaining to look back on now --particularly when glimpsed from the personal, first-hand perspective of a life being lived off-camera so-to-speak. I particularly enjoyed the Paris episode immediately after the war and the New York scene in the 50s. Memoirs like this one are full of valuable snap-shots of the past. I think a lot of readers will enjoy and value this aspect of the book. Tantalising but frustratingly un-fleshed-out though these details may be.
It beats me why another Audible reviewer I read found this book/life inspirational. Perhaps they were both female and Tory? My guess is that the natural readership for this book would be conservative women of a certain age. They would probably be more appreciative of the social/domestic life dominating the first half of the book. The 'ascent' from the domestic to the political arena charted would doubtless appeal too. And they would probably be more receptive to the relentlessly chipper tone, I found wearing.
"Living history, alive, kicking and V-signing"
This is a great book that brings Baroness Trumpington to life on each page. There's little point in my recapping the story with the masterly précis from the previous reviewer already here. It would have been perfect if it had been narrated by the lady herself, but that would be an unrealistic hope. Instead we have Sarah Badel, a good actor in her own right and daughter of the late Alan Badel of the patrician voice and faultless diction. If we can't have Jean Trumpington's characteristic voice Sarah is a very good substitute. Definitely recommended as something a little different.
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