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The daughter of an officer in the Bengal Lancers and an American heiress, she was born in 1922 into a world of privilege and luxury. But her mother lost most of her inheritance in the Wall Street Crash and the family retrenched from Mayfair to Sandwich, in Kent, where her mother became a succesful society interior decorator.
Leaving school at 15, without ever taking an exam, the young Jean Campbell-Harris was sent to Paris to study art and both French and German, but two years later, with the outbreak of the Second World War, she became a land girl - on a farm owned by Lloyd George, a family friend. She loathed the outdoor life and soon changed direction, putting her German to good use by joining naval intelligence at Bletchley Park, where she stayed for the rest of the war.
After the war was over, she went to New York and worked on Madison Avenue as an advertising copywriter. It was in New York that she met her husband, William Barker, a history teacher. They returned to England and married in 1954, where Barker became first a master and then headmaster at the Leys School in Cambridge.
In this witty and winning memoir, Jean Trumpington recalls her early life, growing up in London and Kent in the 1920s and 30s, her wartime experiences, her life in the world of Madison Avenue's 'mad men' and - perhaps the happiest period of her life - her years as a headmaster's wife. The book ends with her embarking on what was to become a distinguished political career. It is vivid, forthright, and funny, and will appeal to readers who enjoyed the Duchess of Devonshire's Wait for Me as well as to the many people who warmed to Lady Trumpington after her triumphant appearance on Have I Got News for You.
"What a joy this book is. Trumpers is irrepressibly naughty, permanently mischievous and hasn’t finished yet…But this memoir isn’t just a fascinating, frequently hilarious insight into the life of a force of nature. It is also, despite itself, an examination of a particular generation of women, trained for not much except marriage and cocktail parties, and of how, given the right spirit, some of these women derailed in the best possible way and went on to have wonderful adventures." ( Sunday Times, Culture, India Knight)
"This is the stuff of Evelyn Waugh and F Scott Fitzgerald except that Lady Trumpington lived it for real and to the full….However for all the giddy lurching from poverty to wealth, swanky parties to lonely digs there emerges a poignantly touching tale of a fiercely intelligent woman searching for her place in the world. That she finally finds it is a source of delight…A book never had a better title." ( Daily Express, Caroline Jowett)
"..exuberant, engaging and very funny book" (John Preston, Daily Mail)
"Coming Up Trumps is an absolute riot, a brisk trot through the life of a feisty, fun-loving aristocrat who knew anyone who was anyone in the last century…a colourful life and her equally colourful, life affirming, gloriously funny autobiography." ( The Sunday Express Charlotte Heathcote)
"…and now, in her 92nd year, publishing her memoirs, which are as welcome as they are overdue…there is something exhilaratingly sane about a stream of off-the-cuff anecdotes and reminiscences at the end of a long life. Shut your eyes – this is one of the acid tests of a good memoir – and you can almost hear the baroness in full flow, holding forth over a whisky in a bar the House of Lords…Trumpington is a splendidly self-depracating raconteur, with some funny stories to share." ( Sunday Telegraph David Robson)
"Characteristically trenchant and witty, the indomitable Baroness Trumpington’s view of her long well-lived life is a joy to read." ( Choice Magazine)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jean on 05-08-14
A delight to listen to
I found this book a delight to listen to. Sort of reminded me of the stories my British grandmother us to tell. Jean Trumpington is in her nineties and tells the story of her long and remarkable life. She was daughter of an officer in the Bengal Lancers and an American heiress. Jean Campbell-Harris was born into a world of privilege, but the Wall Street crash of 1929 entirely wiped out her mother’s fortune. Leaving boarding school at fifteen she was sent to Paris to study French and German. At the outbreak of WWII she returned to England and became a land girl on the farm of Lloyd George. She then joined naval intelligence at Bletchley Park where she stays until the end of the war. After the War she lived in Paris with the family of the England’s Ambassador to France. She then went to New York City to work on Madison Avenue. She met many of the prominent families of U.S. wealth and politics. While in the U.S. she met her future husband British historian Alan Barker. The married in 1954 and had a son Alan, she lived the life of a headmaster’s wife before embarking on a distinguished political career, as Cambridge city councilor, mayor of Cambridge, and served in two conservative governments first as Parliamentary under-secretary of State in department of Health and Social Security and second as Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. In the 1980’s she was made a life peer and becoming Baroness Trumpington of Sandwich. She still serves in the House of Lords. Baroness Trumpington is forthright, witty and opinionated. The stories read as the who’s who of the era. The book is a wonderfully readable account of a well lived interesting life. Sarah Badel did a marvelously job narrating the book.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By bennyhouse on 10-16-15
What made the experience of listening to Coming Up Trumps: A Memoir the most enjoyable?
Simple and punchy writing and very well read.
What other book might you compare Coming Up Trumps: A Memoir to, and why?
The David Niven books and the Dirk Bogarde books - entirely different life styles but a similarly dry and self deprecating sense of humour shared by all three characters.
What does Sarah Badel bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
She IS Baroness Trumpington in the way that she reads it.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No, it was rather one to be savoured and even reread.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By Claire Kendall-Price on 11-02-14
Galloping Through It
Would you try another book written by Jean Trumpington or narrated by Sarah Badel?
If there were more details in the book, then probably yes. Well read though.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
She has done far too much to squeeze into one autobiography and as a result everything is skimmed over far too briefly to make it interesting or engaging. She is v honest about her life and what she has experienced but I gave up as it was a mad rush over the surface. V frustrating.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful