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My Life as a Wife Hardcover – September 1, 2008
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Top international reviews
The writing is a bit breathy and disjointed, as though it was dictated - not what I had expected, as I normally enjoy her columns. No one can deny that she has led a very eventful life, firstly as the step-child of a diplomat, then as the wife of Nicholas Luard. Lots of juicy name-dropping too. In writing about other countries, and often the food, she is excellent, but for the first half of the book she is so naive I WANTED TO SHAKE HER!!!!!
Of an earlier generation, she took her marriage vows seriously, but appears to have worn blinkers as well, not even guessing what her husband was up to. Maybe that attitude was common then - certainly not now. I would have awarded 3 stars for the book .....
BUT.... I was moved to tears by the passages in which she describes his long, slow death after years of alcohol abuse. Every alcoholic should read these passages while they still have time for recovery, or pray that they have such supportive spouses. This part is worthy of 5 stars.
She loved her husband, enjoyed him for who he was, and stood by him without counting either the women or the empties (the latter is her admission). Overall, a fascinating picture of a marriage.
It tells of her marriage to a man with a drink problem, whom she described as more a demolisher than a builder! He seemed to do as he pleased, she loved him throughout. She may have been born upper class but she did not have the upper hand. I applauded her tolerance and her ability to write with honesty, warts and all.
I suppose if it had been a happy marriage the book may have been a bit dull. It wasn't dull, as such, though the name dropping got a bit tiresome. But I suppose if all your friends are well-known then there's not much you can do about that.
I think some things may have been meant to be funny - the Christine Keeler incident and the au pair incident and the Madeleine incident. Personally I found it all very dreary and depressing. What can you say about a man who lets his wife have four children interspersed with several miscarriages and a stillbirth while having a fine old time with half the women in London and lots of drunken mates? Nothing good.
And then when he was ill because he was drinking himself to death back he comes to be looked after by her.
Her life, her choice to stick with him. I just don't know why she did.