March Book Review

This month’s review is by Catherine Adde

A Charmed Life—Growing up in Macbeth’s Castle

By Liza Campbell

My husband and I have spent vacations at our cottage in the hills in Wales. This humble abode in a pastoral setting is surrounded by land that is part of the ‘mysterious’ Cawdor Estate – owned by a British family whose heritage spans 700 years.

Naturally, I was thrilled to read this memoir about the estate, as well as Liza Campbell’s Welsh and Scottish upbringing. Americans seem to be enchanted with castles and aristocracy thus providing another reason to delve into this provocative read.

Liza Campbell Cawdor’s story is witty, compelling and intelligent and I admit consulting our dictionary with regularity while reading this book. With a razor sharp memory, she recalls her birth in Scotland, the last daughter born in Cawdor Castle, to an idyllic childhood in her beloved Welsh valley. Returning to Cawdor, we follow daily life in the castle, her fairytale existence unraveling into a nightmare as her father, who inherits the title and lands, succumbs to excess drink, drugs, affairs, ultimately destroying the family’s legacy.

One of the most enthralling memoirs I have read – it gives us a glimpse into life at the very end of an aristocratic era, when gentlemen still frequented their London Clubs (Whites for example); debutantes ‘came out;’ sons and, occasionally daughters, attended Oxford or Cambridge; and the rich enjoyed their country house hunting parties on the weekend. Richly told and without self pity, I do hope you are moved by this powerful story.


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