Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Spilling The Beans - Clarissa Dickson Wright

Clarissa was born into wealth and privilege, as a child, shooting and hunting were the norm and pigeons were flown in from Cairo for supper. Her mother was an Australian heiress, her father was a brilliant surgeon to the Royal family. But he was also a tyrannical and violent drunk who used to beat her and force her to eat carrots with slugs still clinging to them. Clarissa was determined and clever, though, and her ambition led her to a career in the law. At the age of 21, she was the youngest ever woman to be called to the Bar.

Disaster struck when her adored mother died suddenly. It was to lead to a mind-numbing decade of wild over-indulgence. Rich from her inheritance, in the end Clarissa partied away her entire fortune. It was a long, hard road to recovery along which Clarissa finally faced her demons and turned to the one thing that had always brought her joy - cooking. Now at last she has found success, sobriety and peace.
With the stark honesty and the brilliant wit we love her for, Clarissa recounts the tale of a life lived to extremes. A vivid and funny story, it is as moving as it is a cracking good read.

I think if I ever met Clarissa Dickson Wright in person, we might not get on - I'm a working class vegetarian atheist who hates hunting with a passion - but this is a very good read, and I really warmed to her. Her life has certainly been eventful and through it all, she's managed to keep many of her friends - so possibly I'm doing her a disservice. 

The decline into alcoholism is well written - I think to use the jargon, Dickson Wright was a "high functioning" addict and to drink away quite so much money is some sort of an achievement... and appears to be frank and honest. I do wonder which MP she had sex with behind the Speaker's chair in her pre-sobriety days...

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Hi Nic, I enjoyed this book too - found it really interesting - especially the way she turned her life around. I wonder still if she is as eccentric and opinionated as the book made her sound?