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Coming Up Trumps: A Memoir

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  411 ratings  ·  42 reviews
In this characteristically trenchant memoir, the indomitable Jean Trumpington looks back on her long and remarkable life. The daughter of an officer in the Bengal Lancers and an American heiress, Jean Campbell-Harris was born into a world of considerable privilege, but the Wall Street Crash entirely wiped out her mother's fortune. Leaving school at 15, without ever taking ...more
Paperback, 235 pages
Published May 1st 2015 by Pan Books (first published April 24th 2014)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  411 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book funny. Hello magazine for toffs, with enough name dropping to sink a flotilla. Jean Trumpington, the subject of this book, is incredibly eccentric. For example, when she was the headmaster's wife at The Leys, a reputable school in Cambridge.....

It was three weeks before the end of our last term. For seventeen years we had been at The Leys, and for seventeen years, on every Speech Day, it had been my job - my only job - to walk about the edge of the indoor swimming pool,
Jun 15, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
You would hope a member of the House of Lords in their nineties would have something significant to say...think again.
This vacuous, trivial piece is full of the accounts of privilege with constant references to the fact that hasn't any money while describing activities that people on average income wouldn't even dream of - they are too busy making a living and contributing to the greater good. Hard to see what this Baroness has contributed .
I suspect this book has come about because of an
I found this book a delight to listen to. Sort of reminded me of the stories my British grandmother us to tell. Jean Trumpington is in her nineties and tells the story of her long and remarkable life. She was daughter of an officer in the Bengal Lancers and an American heiress. Jean Campbell-Harris was born into a world of privilege, but the Wall Street crash of 1929 entirely wiped out her mother’s fortune. Leaving boarding school at fifteen she was sent to Paris to study French and German. At ...more
Gareth Evans
Jul 16, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My lovely friend Rita Hollimgworth-Smythe, whose stepson became Lord Whatsapp, recommended this lovely book to me. I have recommended it to all my old friends, I have simply hundreds of them. So many I cannot remember anything remotely interesting about any of them apart from their names, their connections and how they gave jolly old me a job, which I didn't really like or do very well, but attended parties instead.

I am so glad that the author didn't bore us with politics. She was only a minor
Promising start; disappointingly shallow.
J. Boo
Nov 27, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Worked at Bletchley Park as a clerk, later became a politician. Obituary here:
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book. Just exactly who didn’t she know?!!
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the most uplifting, jolly autobiography I’ve ever read (after Brian Blessed’s ‘Absolute Pandemonium’). Living away from England has me homesick, and this book staved that off a bit. Brilliant.
Val Robson
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Jean Trumpington is best known for making a rude gesture in the House of Lords when she was 89 and appearing as a guest panellist on a BBC satirical news quiz show when she was 90. I thought she seemed a great character and was looking forward to reading her biography. What a let down. I don't think I've ever come across so much name-dropping. Every other sentence is along the lines of 'when I met Lady Ponsonby-Smythe, who's niece was later to become Viscountess Cholmondeley when she met the ...more
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
On the surface, you'd think there wasn't much to enjoy about a posh die-hard Tory (Thatcher was a hero of hers) looking back at very privileged life. But, there's actually an awful lot to enjoy. It provides an insight into a different world. One where you hop from job to job, party to party, where you can always find a gaggle of friends no mater where you end up - basically because you're rich and have the right connections. In fairness to Trumpington, she never denies she was privileged; she ...more
May 04, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A powerhouse of a woman with an amazing life story! Of course she was extremely privileged (which to be fair she acknowledges) though she seems to not really understand how much her connections to the powerful and rich made opportunities fall into her lap. At times the memoir seems like one big name dropping, however there are moments where her unconventional strong personality comes through. She would be an engaging and rather crazy friend to have.
Dr. Christopher M Rayner
Jolly fun.

There’s no doubt that Baroness Trumpington was both a great sport and fond of a good laugh. Born with an entire canteen of silverware in her mouth she nevertheless suffered som reversals in her long and eventful life. If I have a criticism then it is that the cheerfulness does seem a bit relentless from time to time.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delightful read. Whilst not having a great relationship with her mother, this didn't seem to stop the author from pursuing a life full of adventure, making many, many friends along the way who were almost like family to her. Game for most things and with a positive outlook on life, what a life she's led. Hats off to her.
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read
Baroness Trumpington has lived a very interesting life. Sadly her writing skills were not great and it read a bit like a school essay. She is a great name-dropper and assumes that her audience know exactly who all these 'illustrious' people are. Could have been a much better book.
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Extremely likeable lady...
...her social and political connections offered her
... as she says: "...a lucky life."
She is 95 years old and she is still having fun!
It was a little tedious in places especially when the name dropping started but that is the nature of the memoir. I would, I think, have enjoyed more about her time in Parliament.
Don Teale
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very entertaining and very accessible
Catherine Jeffrey
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Anyone who jumps fully clothed into a public school swimming pool deserves a 4 star review, bravo !
Doris Speed
name dropping and a very privileged life.... nicely written!
Peter Groves
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining memoir, but very light on politics. A shame that more politicians are not like she was: one of a kind.
Suze Connor
Not as interesting or as well written as I expected but still a decent read.
Gill Lindsay
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was given this by a colleague when I left a job - loved it! Thanks Jen
"Lifson" Kate Glover
It would appear that, when you consider "the elite", about a third of them are flat broke at any one time, and being carried by the others. Who is broke today could vary depending on the stock market, house prices, business decisions, or even health considerations.

Baroness Trumpington is an interesting character, independently minded in a world where one is more typically expected to just conform and be "a good egg". Becoming a land girl and working at Bletchley Park during her early adulthood
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't tell you how much I loved this book. What a fascinating life Jean Trumpington has led: land girl, civil servant at Bletchley Park, headmaster's wife, magistrate, life peer. This memoir is packed with stories from all these periods of her life and all the other equally fascinating bits in between. Growing up in social circles that included the Lloyd George family, Trumpers's tales often feature well-known names from the period, and helped me to better fit together the pieces of stories ...more
Sarah Tipper
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here is a list of just some of the things Baroness Trumpington has done; Played strip poker, avoided unwanted attention in taxis, tap danced on tables, played Scrabble when it was new, rushed to change out of her swimming cossie when the King of Tonga popped round unexpectedly, been on quiz shows, gained a vote by admiring dahlias effusively and been on the first and last Concorde flights. You can’t tell me you don’t want to read more about her life after reading that list! I adored this book, ...more
Oct 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
In a recent interview, Jean Trumpington claimed neither to have written nor read this memoir, but did she dictate it? There is no style, but an abundance of good humor, and many lessons on taking the best life has to offer. The narrative is straightforward, from Jean's unhappy childhood through to her stint as mayor of Cambridge, which started her meteoric political and ceremonial career. The last section, with Jean in her 90's, is grim, but as a whole her memoir of grit and privilege is worth ...more
May 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book should have been 5 stars. I do not understand how such a long life that has been rich and varied could be condensed in such a slim volume. Perhaps at her age she did not want to commit to a weighty tome but it is an opportunity missed. She is a great British eccentric, with a great sense of fun, and deserved more. I did enjoy the book, but it was shallow and light touch, and it left you wanting more.
Luke Chapman
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book about a woman who has enjoyed a very interesting life! I thoroughly enjoyed every page & couldn't put it down ! If you like interesting people with a positive outlook on life you'll enjoy this book too . Well written & charming . I felt by the time I had completed this book that I would really enjoy a good old chinwag with this lovely lady !
Stefan Constantine
A real disappointment. I bought the book with the expectation of laughing my way through it, however I soon became bored of the monotonous writing style, and was truly baffled by the author's conception of 'poor'. That's 7.99 I'll never get back! ...more
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was really looking forward to reading this .... Even splashed out on the Hardback . What a disappointment ! It could have been so much more ..... Seemed to skim the surface continually . No atmosphere at all . Shame .
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