Outrageous Fortune: Growing Up at Leeds Castle by Anthony Russell

51w58jivQ3LI’m not sure where my fondness for the British aristocracy comes from. Maybe it’s just from too much of reading fairy tales.

But many elements of Anthony Russell memoir feel like a fairy tale. He grew up in the famous Leeds Castle, which had been purchased and restored by his formidable grandmother, Lady Baillie. There were ceremonies for releasing baby ducks. There was a formal, rigid daily structure called the Castle Way, which in some ways reminds me of my own grandmother’s house. Every time I read this memoir (this being the 3rd), I am stuck by the overwhelming desire to make toast by the fire side and trot off to England to spend my Christmas.

Russell does acknowledge repeatedly that his upbringing was privileged and called that “dangerous” as it little prepared him for life outside the castle. His shyness, which was ignored by the adults at the Castle, made boarding schools a challenge. Nevertheless, he reflects positively on the experience overall. The ends in 2009, when he return to the castle which is now a museum. Talking with a former member of the staff, they reminisce fondly on the way life used to be.

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