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Brought up by her middle-aged father, after her mother’s death when she was barely five, Sue revelled in the gamut of experience afforded by the combination of an almost feral rural childhood to living in London’s possibly most exclusive address, enjoying fine dining, opera, and art. In her fascinating memoir, Laughing and Splashing: Memories of Bouncing Through a Life of Privilege and Loss 1945 - 2010, Sue follows the path from her great-grandparents’ working class lives to her own marriage into, out of, and back into one of the great British landowning families. She writes about the early days of Farmers Weekly and farming in the first half of the twentieth century. She describes trying to find out about her mother’s family and not always liking what she found.
Life in boarding schools in the 1950s and ‘60s is described in vivid detail, before moving on to the experience of being an art student in Marseille and London in the ‘60s. She rebelled zealously but then realised that conforming opened exciting doors. She became a foxhunter; skirted the edge of the debutante season; worked in TV film production; as an agricultural interpreter; a farmer and a historic property management consultant.
Her father encouraged her to grab the moment, which she did, many of them, all without regret. This is a cheerful book for anyone who enjoys memoirs, and more, reading about the vast array of experiences Sue has been through. There is something for everyone and if anyone who loses or has lost a parent reads it, it should hearten them. Laughing and Splashing shows that such tragedy need not be the end of the world, but the beginning of a different one to be enjoyed.
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