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Family Life: Birth, Death and the Whole Damn Thing Paperback – 25 Apr 2013


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Frequently Bought Together

Family Life: Birth, Death and the Whole Damn Thing + My Life as a Wife: Love, Liquor and What to Do About Other Women + Still Life: Klipfisk, Cloudberries and Life After Kids
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (25 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408831074
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408831076
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 261,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Unspeakably moving ... She deserves a medal (Libby Purves The Times)

Writing with admirable courage, she contributes memorably to the literature of family life (Elizabeth Buchan Mail on Sunday)

Some of the most poignant and moving writing this year (Daily Express)

Books can be good, bad or patchy, but there are some that you will never forget. Elisabeth Luard's belongs in the last category (Sue Gaisford Independent)

One of the most powerful accounts you will ever read of a mother's love for her child (Daily Mail)

Book Description

An extraordinary and moving memoir of an unconventional, unforgettable family

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Nov. 1999
Format: Paperback
Family Life tells of the author's years bringing up her family in England, Spain and France, and is a cross between autobiography and travel book with a few recipes thrown in. I found Luard's rather unconventional attitude to bringing up children refreshing compared to todays trend for wrapping them up in cotton wool - her son and three daughters certainly seemed to grow up fairly well-rounded anyway. The final chapters deal movingly with Luard's eldest daughter Francesca's illness and give a poignant account of how she and the rest of her family come to terms with it, and I must confess to shedding a few tears by the end of the book.I look forward to reading the next instalment - Still Life.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 Jan. 1999
Format: Paperback
I was given this book while living in England, and it came highly recommended. It is not heard of very much here, in Canada, where I now live. I read the first half whilst on holiday in Southern Spain, thinking it would be appropriate to read it while in the book's setting. I honestly found it rather slow at first, though very well-written, and a dry wit which pervades until the very last chapter, which becomes more tragedy than comedy. By the second half of the book, I was enamoured, and loved the description of family life in Spain, the titillating recipes from Spain and France, and the in-depth look into a Spanish psyche, from flamenco to food...as it is a biography of the Luard family, the last chapter is the factual tragedy of the death of their daughter, and I was reading and weeping late at night to finish it...I would highly recommend the book!! I will look for more Elizabeth Luard titles.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Mar. 2000
Format: Paperback
A thoroughly good read if you like food and dream of living the good life somewhere near the Mediterranean. Life is not a breeze for the Luard family, but mother Elizabeth lets us share the meals and the fun as well as the difficulties. The death of her daughter is a shock, but is lovingly and honestly described.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By avid ravid on 6 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
I challenge any reader to remain unmoved by the last chapters of this little book. I felt nourished spiritually and physically throughout, it has become a favourite and I return for a "snack" many times. I identified so whole-heartedly with Elisabeth's triumphs and struggles which are difficult to editorialise now in explanation to following generations. Hard choices have always and still have to be made, balancing career, economy and family,is still a challenge, those of us, who were lost in the post war pre-feminist generation I feel may have had it harder than those who followed the path paved by us. Not for we the counselling sessions that would follow a miscarriage or still birth today. I too was disgruntled by the Passport experience.. (my husband had to sign my first passport as well!!!). I am so thrilled that a much younger reader has also written a favourable review, love and common sense are ageless it seems. Unlike Elisabeth, I was not blessed with a large family or such a talented husband, but it is clear that both blessings came at a cost when her "Clan" were diminished by still birth and by the ravages of AIDS. A close friend lost a dear daughter in her mid twenties to cancer. "Of Love and Angels" helped me a lot in darkest hours, I hope my friend too went to the Carribean to enjoy the sun... I will think of her there with "Fran", they had a lot in common.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Sutton on 12 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
I must admit that I've never heard of Elisabeth Luard and I certainly wouldn't have been likely to read this if it hadn't been put forward as a Bookworms choice - but I'm glad it was.

Elisabeth was married to Nicholas Luard who latterly was a writer and politician, but who was known in society London of the 1960s as the co-founder of a nightclub called The Establishment with Peter Cook.

Elisabeth and Nicholas had four children and they moved around a great deal when the children were young. The book starts out in London but soon they up-sticks and move - first to Andalusia in Spain, and later to the Languedoc region of France, before returning to London.

The book centres on Elisabeth and her children - Nicholas doesn't feature a great deal - and their travels between 60s until the untimely death of the eldest daughter, Francesca, in 1994. Towards the end of the book, Francesca takes over for one chapter as she tells her story about her illness.

Interspersed with plenty of recipes, it is an amusing, interesting book, and although their lifestyle was not what could be considered `normal' the book is entertaining and the section about Francesca's death is a story of courage. I think it will give us plenty to talk about!
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