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on 23 May 2014
Jean Trumpington's biography is a conversation piece about a way of life which has almost vanished. From the upper middle class ( I guess) she had all the necessary contacts to make the best of the opportunities which have come her way. Never rich but rich in her friendships. She comes across as a warm, likeable and honest person.
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on 9 July 2014
An entertaining visit to the life of a woman involved in major historical events affecting British wartime and political history. The cast of characters grows along the way showing just how enmeshed the major players were in each other's lives. A pleasure to read and written as though Jean Trumpington is speaking directly to the reader rather than trying to impress. More lightweight than I had expected from a woman who always presents as such a strong character driven by the need to be active and involved in life for the greater good.
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on 12 May 2017
What a disappointment after all the hype in the Times. I found the story tedious and without humour. What a name dropper and all the jobs she had were through the influence of friends or family. I too grew up during the same period without the advantages of money and social class, plus a northern accent, and had a far more interesting life because I took every opportunity that was on offer.
My own memoir is testimony.
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on 8 May 2014
Such a wonderfully compelling read. Having witnessed and admired Jean Trumpington's forays on TV, I was fascinated to read more about her: in particular her eventful life and her thoughts and attitudes. Today's world could do with more of her kind in public life. This is one of the best, earnest and honest memoirs I have read in a long time. Thank you Baroness T.
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on 1 June 2014
A fascinating book about a woman who has enjoyed a very interesting life! I thoroughly enjoyed every page & couldn't put it down ! If you like interesting people with a positive outlook on life you'll enjoy this book too . Well written & charming . I felt by the time I had completed this book that I would really enjoy a good old chinwag with this lovely lady !
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Baroness Trumpington, now in her early nineties, has experienced a long and interesting life and she has now decided, or been persuaded, to share that life with us in this very readable and enjoyable memoir. Born in 1922 as Jean Campbell-Harris, the daughter of an officer in the Bengal Lancers and an American heiress, Trumpers, as she later became known, was part of a wealthy and privileged family who moved in all the right circles - her grandmother was great friends with the Lloyd George family, her mother was very friendly with one of his daughters, Lady Carey-Evans, and Jean and her two brothers and the Lloyd George grandchildren were "all sort of brought up together." The Liberal Party leader, Jeremy Thorpe, and Jean spent quite a lot of time together as children, but Jean thought him a rather horrid little boy and they had terrible fights. In common with most children from a similar background, Jean was brought up by a series of nannies and as a young child spent most of her time in the nurseries on the top floor of the large Georgian townhouse in which the family lived; she tells us how she used to lean out of the top floor window with a penny wrapped in paper to throw down to the muffin man and at night she would watch out for the man who came to light the street lamps. However, childhood, she tells us, was not her happiest time and although she never told anyone she was unhappy, her mother worked it out for herself when she turned up at Jean's boarding school unannounced and was greeted by the headmistress with great surprise as Jean had told everyone that her mother had died two weeks previously.

Fortunately life improved as Jean became older and although she left school at fifteen with no qualifications and never took an exam in her life - not even a driving test ("I learnt to drive in the war, when we were all given licences without having to take a test") - Jean didn't let a lack of formal qualifications hold her back. After a spell at finishing school in Paris, Jean came back to England just before the outbreak of WWII and became a land girl on Lloyd George's farm in Surrey, which she found so desperately dull that she decided instead to try a secretarial course, but was hopeless at shorthand. Jean was then, through a friend of her father's, offered a position at Bletchley Park, a job which, she tells us, was a mix of the deathly dull and the thrillingly exciting. "When we weren't working hard we were being extremely naughty." After the war, Jean returned to Paris and worked for an international organization set up to put the inland transport of Europe back together and where she went out with 'various chaps' but, after two years, returned to England and had a succession of jobs, including a stint in Peter Jones. After a period working in America, where for fun Jean tap danced on tables, she met her future husband, Alan Barker, a master at Eton who was in the States on a fellowship to Yale University. They married in London in 1954 and her husband took up a history fellowship at Queens' College, Cambridge, and was later made headmaster of The Leys School in Cambridge where, Jean tells us, she spent the happiest and most settled years of her life. In the early seventies Jean became a magistrate, around the time of the Cambridge Rapist, she later became Mayor of Cambridge and then started her career in politics, but I shall leave the details and the remainder of Baroness Trumpington's story for prospective readers to discover for themselves - and there is a lot more to this memoir than I have revealed in this review.

Filled with interesting characters and situations, and with some lovely photographs of the author and her family and friends, I found this memoir an enjoyable, engaging and entertaining read. Born at a time when most young girls of her class were expected to go to finishing school, get married, have children and give parties, Jean did all of that, but thankfully she was fortunate enough to be able to do a lot more besides. A long life, well lived.
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on 4 March 2015
Best described as a bubble that bursts. Baroness Trumpington gives the appearance of being a witty raconteur but there is nothing in these memoirs to give substance to that. Its a book of lists. Where I've been; who I've met; what good company I am; how important I've become - although at least with the grace to say that she cannot think why. The book is like one of those trick presents at Christmas - a well wrapped, presented and disguised large box of virtually nothing - except a malteser or similar to keep your hopes up. Given the roles she had in later life why has she got nothing to say? Hardly a view on anything. And all this proud business about serving in Bletchley during the war - as a typist - hardly the basis of making any extraordinary contribution. Maybe I missed something, but I don't think so. Very disappointing and over hyped.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 November 2015
Here is a list of just some of the things Baroness Trumpington has done; Played strip poker, avoided unwanted attention in taxis, tap danced on tables, played Scrabble when it was new, rushed to change out of her swimming cossie when the King of Tonga popped round unexpectedly, been on quiz shows, gained a vote by admiring dahlias effusively and been on the first and last Concorde flights. You can’t tell me you don’t want to read more about her life after reading that list! I adored this book, the author is so full of gratitude for those who have been kind, is quick to own up to her faults and modest about her successes. She is also very entertaining and sometimes silly. She has met some very famous figures and has some lovely little insights and tales.
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on 14 June 2014
Was an interesting resume of her life but would have liked more stories related to each section, she skipped from one job to another but we never really found out why, when or how she changed her occupations, nor the other interesting people she met along her journey. She is a great and fascinating lady and when interviewed or seen on television we never have enough in depth idea of what paved her way and where she would have done things differently. It seems like a wonderful life full of the opportunities many of us would have wished for ourselves. A bitty read that could have been much larger.
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on 1 July 2014
This lady really interests me probably as I used to live in Trumpington Cambridge. She still has a lot of opinions and isn't afraid to share them. The book mentions quite a lot about the Leys school as her husband was the head master there. This is near where I live now. This book would appeal to females most as they would probably like to be like Jean when they are older not afraid to speak their mind. Saw her recently on television saying she buys her clothes by mail order lot easier then trailing the shops.
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