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Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Tale of A Cheltenham Lady by Elizabeth Gillard

This is a charming and relaxing read about a girl who struggled with relative poverty and a conflicted relationship with her mother and rose above both to become a 'Cheltenham Lady'.

Elizabeth Gillard grew up in a small, stuffy flat overlooking a square in Cheltenham with two rather odd parents.  She was lucky enough to have a wealthy relative who sent her to Cheltenham Ladies' College.  She enjoyed attending, although she felt inferior compared with the richer girls.

She then studied nursing in the 'swinging London' of the 1960s.  I liked this part of the book which describes the joy of living in London and the poverty of the East End.  Her writing is at its best here when she evokes the creepiness of the East End only seventy years after Jack the Ripper.

Elizabeth Gillard completed her nursing qualification and goes on to write about her marriages, children, and travelling adventures.  She's very likeable and you feel like cheering her on as she endlessly tries to resolve her odd relationship with her class-obsessed mother.

I enjoyed this gentle and very English autobiography.

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