Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner

Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner
Publisher: Hachette Books
Genre: Historical, Non-Fiction
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Discover untold secrets with this extraordinary memoir of drama and tragedy by Anne Glenconner—a close member of the royal circle and lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret.

Anne Glenconner has been at the center of the royal circle from childhood, when she met and befriended the future Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, the Princess Margaret. Though the firstborn child of the 5th Earl of Leicester, who controlled one of the largest estates in England, as a daughter she was deemed “the greatest disappointment” and unable to inherit. Since then she has needed all her resilience to survive court life with her sense of humor intact.

A unique witness to landmark moments in royal history, Maid of Honor at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, and a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret until her death in 2002, Anne’s life has encompassed extraordinary drama and tragedy. In Lady in Waiting, she will share many intimate royal stories from her time as Princess Margaret’s closest confidante as well as her own battle for survival: her broken-off first engagement on the basis of her “mad blood”; her 54-year marriage to the volatile, unfaithful Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner, who left his fortune to a former servant; the death in adulthood of two of her sons; a third son she nursed back from a six-month coma following a horrific motorcycle accident. Through it all, Anne has carried on, traveling the world with the royal family, including visiting the White House, and developing the Caribbean island of Mustique as a safe harbor for the rich and famous-hosting Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Raquel Welch, and many other politicians, aristocrats, and celebrities.

With unprecedented insight into the royal family, Lady in Waiting is a witty, candid, dramatic, at times heart-breaking personal story capturing life in a golden cage for a woman with no inheritance.

This lady had one heck of a ride.

I’ve been on a kick, reading books about the royals and those connected to the crown. Not the current big names, but the former ones. The ones I’d not heard or read much about. This is one of those stories.

Some of the books by those connected to the royals can come off a bit stilted or fantastical. Some don’t really show much royal, but more of their lives. This book is a good mix of both. Lady Anne had one heck of a life as Princess Margaret’s Lady in Waiting. I can’t imagine the stress of her job, let along raising five children and being married through it all.

I liked the book. She has a certain resiliency that’s not always evident these days. She really did grin and bear it often. Her children could be walking trainwrecks and her husband had so many faults. Where this was interesting, it was also a bit of a distraction. I can’t imagine how she brushed so much off and looked the other way. Sometimes she came across so strong, but other times…I can’t imagine how she put up with her lot in life or why she thought she should.

There are sneak peeks of her life with the princess, like the trips to Mustique and royal engagements. It wasn’t nearly so much full of tabloid fodder as it was everyday life. I liked that part.

If you’re looking for a book that’s about the royals, but more of a slice of life, then give this one a try.

Home Work by Julie Andrews

Home Work by Julie Andrews
Publisher: Hachette Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

In Home, the number one New York Times international bestseller, Julie Andrews recounted her difficult childhood and her emergence as an acclaimed singer and performer on the stage.

With this second memoir, Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years, Andrews picks up the story with her arrival in Hollywood and her phenomenal rise to fame in her earliest films — Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Andrews describes her years in the film industry — from the incredible highs to the challenging lows. Not only does she discuss her work in now-classic films and her collaborations with giants of cinema and television, she also unveils her personal story of adjusting to a new and often daunting world, dealing with the demands of unimaginable success, being a new mother, the end of her first marriage, embracing two stepchildren, adopting two more children, and falling in love with the brilliant and mercurial Blake Edwards. The pair worked together in numerous films, including Victor/Victoria, the gender-bending comedy that garnered multiple Oscar nominations.

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It’s a jolly holiday with Julie!

There is so much to know about Julie Andrews. Honestly, I had no idea what kind of life she’s lived or if she had kids. Why? I just knew her from her movies and never bothered to check out her backstory. I saw this book on a list of must-read stories for 2020, so I knew I wanted to read it. I’m glad I did.

This book reads like talking to a friend. Just a nice conversation about life between friends. It flows well and I was drawn right in. There are notes about her movies and preparations for those movies, but also about her private life–getting married, having a daughter, having relationship issues, divorce and finding love again. She’s a relatable person and it shows on each page.

I loved the silly story about the lilacs the most. You’ll have to read the book to learn more. I’m not giving away the secrets, but it’s funny.

If you’re looking for a good memoir book that will keep you reading and wanting to know more, then this is the one you should check out!

Shrill by Lindy West

Shrill by Lindy West
Publisher: Hachette Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Shrill is an uproarious memoir, a feminist rallying cry in a world that thinks gender politics are tedious and that women, especially feminists, can’t be funny.

Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible — like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you — writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.

From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.
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There is beauty in pain and healing. There is beauty in blunt honesty. This book has all three and so much more.

Lindy West is a big girl. She makes no bones about the fact she’s not small and will never will be. I liked her blunt honesty. It was nice to read a book where the heroine isn’t apologizing for being big. She’s just herself. The writing flowed well and kept my interest. I wanted to keep reading even when I had other things that needed to be done.

Now be warned, there is a section on rape and rape jokes. This won’t be for everyone. It won’t be. But she’s explaining her view and her thoughts. Comedy and jokes are in the eye of the beholder. She simply holds up the mirror to what some of us think is normal and whatever and to what other of us think are just wrong. I liked that she was willing to discuss the difference.

This book had funny moments, too–like when she’s talking about trying to fit in the airplane seats–not that she can’t fit, but the struggle being real and how she deals with it. There are moments that are just gut-wrenching–like when she defends herself against those who feel rape jokes are funny and should be told. She tries to get those finding the humor to see another side of the argument. Unfortunately, she ends up being the victim of internet trolls. I like how it empowered her. Many of us have been trolled and some want to hide. She doesn’t. She doesn’t take each one head-on, but she doesn’t let them win, either. It was refreshing, while being sad, too.

If you’re looking for a very meta book, then this might be the one for you.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Molly Cannon

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Molly Cannon
Publisher: Hachette Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (344 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Here comes trouble…

Etta Green kissed Everson, Texas, goodbye years ago. A big city chef, she intends to return only long enough to settle her beloved grandmother’s estate and then hightail it back to Chicago. But Grammy Hazel had other plans. In her will, she left Etta part-ownership of a B&B that’s about to go bankrupt before it even opens. And what’s worse–Etta’s partner is Donny Joe Ledbetter, a handsome devil with some serious bad boy charm. Growing up, Donny Joe didn’t give Etta a second glance. Now, she’s got his whole attention.

A far cry from the shy bookworm he once knew, sexy, spirited Etta Green is nothing but trouble. Yet Donny Joe decides to play nice. After all, the quicker they open the B&B, the faster this exasperating–and irresistible–woman will be on her way. Donny Joe has never been a one-woman kind of man. But one crazy little moment of unforgettable desire may change his mind–if he can convince Etta to stay for good…

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I like a book that flows well and keeps me engaged. This book wins on both accounts. I totally got the hometown feel of the story and became emotionally invested very early on. I needed to know what happened next.

Etta is a great character. She’s a chef and back in her home town because of a not so fun clause. She’s been given a bed and breakfast. It’s not at all what she wants to have. Not at all. Why? Her partner is the one person she never expected to see again—the bad boy she lusted after. She’s confused and not happy, but it was good to see her change and grow through the book. I rooted for her.

Then there was Donny Joe. Talk about a yummy man. Okay, so he’s a bad boy. He’s also not exactly how I pictured him. He’s very three dimensionally written. I liked his struggles as well. Like her? Hate her? Let her into his life? Who knows? It makes for good reading. I felt like I was right there with them.

If you want a book that’s delightful, fun and full of romance, then this might be the book for you.