Magazine article The Spectator

Jaunts and Jollities

Magazine article The Spectator

Jaunts and Jollities

Article excerpt

Jaunts and jollities ANNABEL: AN UNCONVENTIONAL LIFE by Lady Annabel Goldsmith Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £20, pp. 274, ISBN0297829661

After all the hype about Lady Annabel Goldsmith's memoirs - the serialisation, the fawning interviews, the launch party at the Ritz - I confess that I was quite prepared to dislike this book. On opening up the portentous family tree at the front, I began wondering whether the author was following in the tradition of those late-Victorian and Edwardian ladies of title who published slim volumes of autobiography steeped in self-satisfaction and excruciating coyness.

Certainly, in view of her 'unconventional life', she is remarkably discreet. For example, she confides in us that the Queen has 'the loveliest skin' (an aristocratic version of the usual cliché about Her Majesty's 'complexion'). Princess Alexandra is described as 'a great friend for whom I have huge admiration', the Duchess of Kent as 'vivacious'. Of the occasion at Ormeley Lodge (her house at Ham Common) described by the Princess of Wales in Andrew Morton's book as a 'ghastly party', when there was alleged to be a confrontation between Diana and Camilla Parker Bowles, Lady Annabel loftily declares that she was 'unaware of any such incident'. And while 'rumour had it' that Diana could be 'quite manipulative', she 'never showed that side of herself' to Lady Annabel. Virtually the only uncharitable remark in the book is her description of the appalling Armand Hammer, who groped her in the Pirates' Lagoon at Disneyland, as 'a rather puffed-up little man and extremely pleased with himself'.

The publishers have not helped by failing to employ a competent proofreader. For instance, Lady Annabel's son-in-law is described on the first page as 'Imran Kahn'. It would be tedious to list even a fraction of the numerous other howlers ('Sunny' Marlborough is dubbed 'Sonny', James Wyatt is curiously called a 'Dublin architect', and so forth). I found the habit of spelling out someone's title in parentheses particularly irritating, especially when, as it often is, rendered wrongly. Thus Lady Colefax is absurdly billed as 'Sibyl Colefax (Lady Sibyl Colefax)'.

Yet somehow none of this really matters a jot and, apart from some embarrassing gush about the glamour of Annabel's, the Berkeley Square nightclub that her first husband Mark Birley named after the author, I soon found myself enjoying the book immensely. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.