Posted 20 hours ago

Whatever Next! (A Bear Family Book, 2)

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Deeply honest and touching, the author shares engaging bits about her life, including her childhood, her lifelong friendship with Princess Margaret, the complicated relationship with her late husband, her children, the losses she’s endured, and the life she’s built for herself now. The writing style is personal and intimate, like you’re sitting with the author and learning these details.

Whatever Next? covers some of the same ground as Lady in Waiting, but the tone is much darker, especially about her marriage to Colin Tennant. Before, she painted him as a highly-strung eccentric who was liable to throw tantrums, but now she calls him “an incredibly selfish, damaged and occasionally dangerous man” and says that “I lived with domestic violence and abuse for most of my marriage”.When writing about her life, I couldn't help many times but be amazed at what it must be like to have such wealth: "We had an excellent staff, and though I felt terribly busy at the time, I never cleaned a bath or made a bed."

What about Princess Margaret? She’s widely portrayed as having been spoilt and difficult, but you’ve always insisted this is unfair.I wasn’t brought up like that. One tried and tried. After he nearly killed me [Tennant violently beat her on Mustique], our marriage did change. We led more separate lives. He spent a lot more time in the West Indies and I was in England with the children. If we’d had to live cheek by jowl, it would have been much harder, as it is for most people. But isn’t stoicism a double-edged sword? As you admit in your book, life might have been better for you and your children if you’d talked more.

Lady Glenconner has suffered more than her fair share of tragedy – her eldest son died of heroin addiction, the second of Aids, and the third was involved in a terrible motorbike crash that left him with serious head injuries. But she believes in putting a brave face on things. When asked for the secret of a healthy old age, she advises people to sit up straight, to lift their feet when walking and not shuffle, and to make lunch their last meal of the day. But most important, as we can see from this book, is to be as open-minded and entertaining as she clearly is. Some letters come from people who are facing difficult times, often asking my advice on how to cope. It’s very difficult as all our lives are so different and we cope in different ways. I tell them never to give up, and remind them that life often turns round. I also encourage them not to dwell on things. There is a difference, I think, between facing problems and allowing oneself to be overwhelmed by them, though that can be a difficult line to tread. I also tell them I try to think of myself as a puppet with a string coming out of the top of my head, pulling me upwards. That way I sit up straight and look forward. Quite honestly, it makes me feel better if I ever get depressed. It’s often silly things that can make a difference.”No, because I was able to murder her in my novel A Haunting at Holkham[published in 2021]. I got rid of her and there was a wonderful feeling of relief. This is true of a lot of the awful things that have happened to me in my life. Now I’ve written about them, I feel completely different. It’s had a wonderful effect on me. My mother whizzed around Norfolk on her beloved Harley Davidson until she was well into her sixties, in her motorcycle leathers. She was my great friend and champion when I was growing up, and encouraged me to be brave and adventurous, but she never fussed about what I was feeling or wanted to indulge my anxieties. We had to put others first, but not to the extent of becoming doormats in our dealings with the world. It was important to stand up for oneself when necessary. Otherwise her message was simple. Never complain. Life isn’t fair. You will have to do things you won’t want to do, so just get on with it. Putting a brave face on things was all we could do.”

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