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73 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Charmed Life
(By Elizabeth Miller) My Alabama book club read the British edition of A Charmed Life in September. We all agreed it was a great choice and a marvelous story. It's a tightly written and poignant anthropological study of a privileged, titled, and terribly dysfunctional British family living in Macbeth's famous Cawdor Castle. A generous dash of dark humor...
Published on October 16, 2007 by S. I. Miller

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sad and pathetic.
What a sad, pathetic tale. Fascinating in that even though I've read a lot of Scottish history, I somehow assumed that the violent, peculiar, and "above the law" ways of the upper crust were long over with but I was wrong. Apparently it's really hard to break away from hundreds of years of ancestral history. I am speaking of Hugh, the father who was such a horrible man to...
Published 22 months ago by teebeezee


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73 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Charmed Life, October 16, 2007
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(By Elizabeth Miller) My Alabama book club read the British edition of A Charmed Life in September. We all agreed it was a great choice and a marvelous story. It's a tightly written and poignant anthropological study of a privileged, titled, and terribly dysfunctional British family living in Macbeth's famous Cawdor Castle. A generous dash of dark humor counterbalances the grimness of the tale. Liza's book tries to convey to the reader an understanding of her father, and perhaps provide closure for her and her siblings. But frankly no excuse can be made for his betrayal of the Campbell children and shattering of the family legacy. Our book club ladies felt that Liza touched on a number of universal truths, and we could all relate to growing up in a family unlike the ideal TV families of the 1960's. We recommend A Charmed Life to all who would appreciate a sad, touching, and thoroughly memorable story of an extraordinary family. And where else have you seen the word "crepuscular" used so aptly?
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Glass Castle" of the Scottish Aristocracy, January 28, 2009
By 
J. Landau (Orinda, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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Absolutely riveting story of Liza Campbell's extraordinary 700-year old family's most recent generations, as bizarre and fascinating as the wildest fiction and all apparently true. It revolves around the recent history of the family that actually lived in Macbeth's castle. It has everything: sex, money, castles (stone rather than glass), fast cars, guns and battles, outrageous aristocratic misadventures, the stepmother from hell and the Scottish countryside.

The book starts off like chick-lit, but any guy will soon be hooked too --something about her father totaling five XK-Es following by the destruction of three Ferraris, having sex with over one hundred women, etc. A mother who is up for sainthood, five delightful siblings, young girls branded by their parents before they were kidnapped so they could be identified years later . . . it makes the life of the author of the bestseller "The Glass Castle" seem mundane by comparison.

Liza Campbell is a wonderful storyteller. Without giving away much, it is a story of family relationships and ill-placed trust with the author trying to see the best in what can only be described as a villain for the ages, or at least a man capable of destroying seven centuries of tradition. And that doesn't include Cawdor Castle's own Cruella de Vil.

Campbell names aristocratic (and Eurotrash)names and the book only becomes more engrossing as you go on, so set aside an afternoon or a couple of readings for one of the most fascinating biographies/autobiographies you will ever read.
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51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside Aristocracy, January 27, 2007
The author, a professional writer, gives great insight into a life few can know: growing up in a rich and powerful family that traces its ancestors back 24 generations. Liza Campbell grew up in Wales although the family's main stronghold is Cawdor Castle, a handsome baronial pile just outside of Inverness, Scotland.

Liza tells about a surprisingly down to earth childhood guided by her parents, calm and distant Cath and her volatile and also much absent father Hugh. Her father is the central character in the book, both alive and dead. He wields a strong influence on his five children and their interactions with him and about him form the main story.

Having been to Cawdor, and loving Inverness and that part of Scotland, I was delighted to hear about this book. It did not disappoint in giving insight into the workings of the Campbell family and the well known castle which is their home.

edited to add: I vistied Cawdor castle again two months ago. It's one of the better castle open to the public in Scotland, I think, because it is a family home and yet it has large, extensive collections and gardens to interest anyone ( I liked it better than Blair Atholl, for instance.) It has some fabulous furniture and interiors. I guess the battle for ownership still rages on, so sad.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true delight in every way, May 4, 2008
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I stumbled across this book when searching for something else. I was intrigued by the title because I once traveled to Scotland and wanted to visit Cawdor, but it was closed as it was the off season. I did however travel the general area, and I looked forward to reading about her life at Cawdor. I was richly surprised to uncover a wonderful gem of a memoir filled with references to the Scottish landscape I so enjoyed visiting. Ms. Campbell is an excellent writer. Her use and command of the English language was a pleasure to experience. Her story, and that of her siblings, was something out of a fairy tale in many regards, yet it was also a nightmare, easily recognized by others who grew up with an alcoholic parent. I enjoyed the book immensely and recommend it highly. I have tremendous respect for her, cemented by the fact that in the notes at the end of the book, she thanked her mother for her permission to share with readers intimate, yet privately painful experiences of her marriage. I greatly look forward to another book penned by Ms. Campbell.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought MY stepmother was evil..., December 27, 2007
but Angelika takes the...er...castle. Having visited Cawdor and its environs decades ago, I could not wait to read this book. It is such a sad, funny, repulsive, infuriating, illuminating story--well told and difficult to put down. The cover picture is just about worth the price of the book itself. I just hope there is a special hell for stepmothers like Angelika and my own. Buy this book!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Should be tagged an ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) memoir, October 28, 2007
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This memoir was interesting and in surprising contrast to its title. The author's life seemed anything but charmed, because she had to deal with the erratic behavior of her alcoholic father. This book should be in the ACOA section, despite the fact the author does not talk about dealing with her issues in the present, only her past. Good reading for anyone who has not had the perfect childhood and a good reminder that even wealthy familes with supposed "charmed lives" are ravaged by addiction.

Also laced with very interesting Welsh history family stories from back to the 1400s.
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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scottish History, Lunatics & Aristocrats, July 17, 2006
By 
Tama Janowitz (New York City United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This beautifully written non-fiction book is full of Scottish history from a completely personal point of view, told in a way that is emminently readable -- Liza Campbell grew up in a fairy-tale existence as the daughter of the Thane of Cawdor (kind of the equivalent of the King of Scotland, I guess) in various castles through out the U.K. The Thane (this is the title held by Macbeth), Liza's dad, grows more and more eccentric, his charms fade and Mr. Ogre takes over -- fairy tale on the outside, nightmare on the in. A memoir which has many elements to identify with -- even if you ain't no Lady.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sad and pathetic., August 23, 2012
By 
teebeezee (Colorado Springs, CO USA) - See all my reviews
What a sad, pathetic tale. Fascinating in that even though I've read a lot of Scottish history, I somehow assumed that the violent, peculiar, and "above the law" ways of the upper crust were long over with but I was wrong. Apparently it's really hard to break away from hundreds of years of ancestral history. I am speaking of Hugh, the father who was such a horrible man to his family and friends. Deliberately cruel and yet they seemed to love and forgive him. What patience they had with him. The author, his daughter, was still making excuses for him on the very last page. She writes well, very witty, and with a dry humor. The injustice of it all made me write this review though. I just feel so sorry for them all, except for HIM.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Familial Intrigue and History, August 5, 2009
I really enjoyed this memoir. Well written, very witty at times. While Liza points out in the beginning that each of her siblings would probably have a very different story to tell, it would be interesting to hear the other Campbell children's point of view on the Thane's behavior and betrayals. Also, there is a rather cryptic reference at the end stating that certain restrictions delineated in her father's estate prevent her from quoting his letters more extensively. I would be interested to know more about all of this. Perhaps a sequel with a happier ending? But then again, here in the States we have many similar stories. Look that the Johnson & Johnson family - the children are still contesting the Estate decades later, and to no avail! Oh well, your face (or perhaps pen) is your fortune! I loved the way she interspersed family events with both family history and Scots history. Well done.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Money can't buy ya love, January 14, 2008
By 
N. King (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I found this book well-written and thoroughly engrossing, although I believe that the original British title ("Title Deeds") is more descriptive of the contents, particularly given the current and continuing legal wranglings. However, the double entendre would be lost, I think, on most Americans. The author aptly calls this a personal memoir, rather than a biography, of her father, but I couldn't shake the feeling that, notwithstanding her attempt at some rudimentary psychoanalysis of and conciliation with her father's memory in the final chapter, she is still highly conflicted about her feelings concerning not only her father, but also her birth mother and stepmother. Charmed life? I don't think so.
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A Charmed Life: Growing Up in Macbeth's Castle
A Charmed Life: Growing Up in Macbeth's Castle by Liza Campbell (Hardcover - October 16, 2007)
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