Outrageous Fortune: Growing Up at Leeds Castle

Anthony Russell, Author
Anthony Russell. St. Martin's, $26.99 (310p) ISBN 978-1-250-00601-1
Reviewed on: 10/28/2013
Release date: 11/26/2013
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-1-84954-631-7
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-250-03137-2
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Anthony Russell, who grew up at Leeds Castle in the 1950' and ‘60s, in this memoir of Men Men at Downton Abbey is as refined and rambling as his 900-year-old grounds. He contextualizes his youth among the brambles of British history, often with droll but condescending descriptions: a "half-decent" butler "with a face resembling a chewed-up cigar"; The lack of perspective that results from growing up among the ultra-elite is not lost on Russell. He calls his privilege "dangerous"—but where's the danger in being "brought up a little soft"? The threat here is to the story. In a society where trouble is prevented or ignored, the reader must make do, as Russell did, with theatre: the hunt, renovation, vacations, and endless teas and suppers. Life and death do happen, as they must, but they stymie, rather than enrich, the "castle way." Russell recognizes this, but does not dwell on it: "Emotional outpourings worked fine on television and in novels, and from our perspective it was best left that way." Someone might have counseled him that a little emotion makes for good memoir, too. (Nov.)
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