— Synopsis —
Thank you so much to Hannah at Midas PR and to 4th Estate the publisher for having me on this blog tour, and to Sarah Aspinall for writing such a gem.
For readers of Hideous Kinky, Dadland and Bad Blood; the astonishing, beguiling story of Sarah Aspinall’s harum scarum childhood, and a love letter to a woman who defied convention to live a life less ordinary.
My Mother attracted unusual people and events to her, and she made things happen….
Sarah Aspinall grew up in the glittering wake of her irrepressible mother Audrey. Born into poverty in 1930s Liverpool, Audrey had always known that she was destined for better things and was determined to shape that destiny for herself. From the fading seaside glamour of Southport, to New York and Hollywood, to post-war London and the stately homes of the English aristocracy, Audrey stylishly kicked down every door she encountered, on a ceaseless quest for excitement – and for love.
Once Sarah was born, she became Audrey’s companion on her adventures, travelling the world, scraping together an education for herself from the books found in hotels or given to her by strangers, and living on Audrey’s charm as they veered from luxury to poverty – an accessory to her mother’s desperate search for ‘the one’.
As Sarah grew older, she realised that theirs was a life hung about with mysteries. Why, for instance, had they spent ages living in a godforsaken motel in the Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina? Who was the charming Sabet Sabescue, and what was his hold over Audrey during several months in Cairo? And what on earth happened to the heirlooms that an ancient heiress, Miss Gillette, gave Sarah when they visited her in Palm Springs?
And why, when they returned to Southport was Audrey ostracised by the society she so longed to be part of?
Diamonds at the Lost and Found tells the story of how Sarah eventually pulled free of her mother’s gravitational pull to carve out a destiny of her own. It is a beguiling testament to dreams, defying convention and exasperated love.
— Review —
What a fascinating and thought provoking story! In this memoir, Sarah, aka Sally, shares with us the intimate moments of her childhood alongside her very unconventional mother Audrey.
“Let’s get this show on the road” was Audrey’s motto.
Audrey was many things and so much more, to Sally and everyone they met along the way. She was “a chancer, a dreamer, a procurer, a delinquent, as well as a teller of tales.” She was never standing still, always restless, always wanting more. She needed to dazzle, sparkle, glitter, whether physically or through her personality.
Her life was this never ending quest, this “hunt” for love and fantastic stories, which was as fulfilling as costly.
Audrey’s duality was simply fascinating: she would have stopped at nothing to get her “happy ever after”, she was a resilient, resourceful, determined and independent woman, who would never take no for an answer and as far from the domestic type as possible, but she was desperate for a man in her life! She somehow couldn’t detach from this primal need; she wouldn’t feel complete without a man!
When Neil, Sally’s father, died ever so young from poorly treated illness, Audrey decided to continue her journey but this time accompanied by Sally, her “partner in crime“.
From Liverpool, to Southport, America, Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Cairo and everywhere in between, on cruise ships, in trains, cars, and hotels around the world, Sally was her wing-woman.
Shocking, funny, heartbreaking, exciting, lonely, and most peculiar, Sally’s coming of age story is simply extraordinary.
Sarah takes you on this sensory discovery journey, whereby you are growing up with her. You get to experience all those things she discovered. You smell the perfumes, scents of places, of people, you touch the fabrics, delight your eyes and ears with the music, songs and dances. What a wonderful world she got to be part of.
It certainly had its downsides and finding yourself in the shadow of such an exuberant mother is no easy task.
Audrey probably wouldn’t have won “mother of the year” award, in that she didn’t push for her daughter to have an academic education, she didn’t cook, and was quite self absorbed in her desperate attempts at finding love. Audrey despised all sports (apart from dancing) and cultivated an absolute loathing of getting one’s hair wet, so she never forced Sally to go to school, especially not on swimming days!
Sally was treated like an adult, used to lure men, included in choreographies and random appearances, she didn’t fit with other kids. She was often alone, sometimes even neglected, so she took refuge in her books and in the company of other travelers, often much older.
She had to become her own person without much support, and with what she had. Younger she was doing everything to please her mother. She was astonishingly obedient, staying alone for long period of times. She ended up living 2 lives; Audrey’s, and one she got to discover for herself, through art, literature, music, plays and encounters.
Despite Audrey’s self centered personae, she managed to raise an extraordinary girl. She made sure to give her the tools to fend for herself, and instilled in Sally this resilience, this strength and desire for life. She gave her amazing principles such as “all the world loves a tryer“, “don’t ask don’t get“, and she helped shape the woman Sarah has become.
Such an inspiring story, and I really loved reading a book depicting implicitly the importance of the school of life. This is something too often dismissed, but as equally important as academia, if not more! Success is as much based on what we learn from books and teachers as what we learn in the world and from the people we meet throughout.
Even if Sally resented her mother for spoiling her education, she was taught so many precious skills that it made up for Audrey’s shortcomings.
Audrey didn’t want Sally to be a kid but becoming an adult meant to separate from her and she couldn’t bear it. And when the teenage years started kicking in, Sally’s desire to be different from her mother became almost an obsession.
But can we really escape taking on some of our parents behaviours? Are we doomed to follow in their footsteps? What does it take to free ourselves from the imprints made by them in our DNA?
After all, Audrey did really love Sally, in her own special way, and she gave her everything she thought she could. And this is really what this book is all about: LOVE. It drives us, consumes us but it is the best feeling in the world, and when you get to experience it you do fell like the luckiest person alive.
I cannot stop thinking about it, I was transported in this life story that sometimes seemed out of this world. I stickered and post-ited so many pages for further contemplation, especially about the different sides inside ourselves…
Please pick up this book and embark on this magical and thought-provoking journey with Sally and Audrey, you can only come out on the other side feeling somewhat transformed.
Out now with 4th Estate
— About the Author – Sarah Aspinall —
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