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.
"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)
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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.
- Claire Kendall-Price