From an eccentric childhood in the South of France, Malaysia and occasionally the UK to her years as a young new reporter in Algeria and Italy during World War II Suzanne St Albans has had a most unusual and fascinating life. Following her idiosyncratic childhood, where schooling took a back seat, we meet her parents, minders, governesses, family retainers and many other local 'characters' against a backdrop of extraordinary animals, vegetation and landscape. Eventually Suzanne and her two siblings went to proper schools. When World War II started the family was split up and Suzanne started her working life as a library assistant. She eventually wormed her way into the secret service. Once there she wrote with wit and erudition about life in the News Section in Algiers and when the war ended she was offered by her reluctant boss a new assignment, as News Editor in Vienna, where on her first day she met her future husband. This charming autobiography draws you into the details of this fascinating life lived to the full.
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(199mm x 125mm x 23mm)
Virago Press Ltd
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
It would be difficult to invent early years more exotic than those enjoyed by Suzanne, Dowager Duchess of St Albans. She spent her childhood shuttled between idyllic but chaotic family homes in Malaysia and the South of France in the 1920s and 1930s, running wild with a freedom that could only be dreamt of by modern children. In Malaysia, the family pets were monkeys and the garden a tropical rainforest. When the bohemian family decamped to France, life remained entertaining and exciting, not least because of Suzanne's eccentric mother's relationship with various equally eccentric locals. After the outbreak of World War II, the family was forced to make a hazardous escape to Britain, on foot and by boat, where Suzanne took a job as a librarian. This period of normality did not last for long, and she soon found a job as a junior journalist working for the war effort in North Africa, in an office where the latest news was monitored and written up into suitably optimistic propaganda for the benefit of the local population. Her work took her to various European cities, including Vienna, where, at the end of the war, she met the man who was to become her husband. Here the book ends rather abruptly - I could have read twice as much again about this amazing woman. Her eye for local detail is vivid and immediate, and whether she is describing the family's efforts to stop lizards from falling from the ceiling into their soup in Malaysia, or her disconcerting discovery that she was expected to walk home on her own through Algiers after her shift ended in the early hours of the morning (armed only with a hatpin to ward off troublesome men), she has an ability to transport the reader into her intrepid life. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Suzanne Marie Adele Beauclerk
Suzanne St Albans was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1921. She now lives in Berkshire where she spends her time doing historical research.