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Coming Up Trumps: A Memoir

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  454 ratings  ·  46 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 3.83  · 
Rating details
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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, terrif
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 appea
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 m
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 t ...more
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: ...more
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 mos ...more
Sue Galloway
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A jolly good read. I liked this lady she has gumption and gets on with life and seems to enjoy everything she does. She has always been well connected but seems to make new friends in all walks of life and many of her stories are of how she's helped them or they've helped her. ...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 ju ...more
Lucy Dodgson
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Personally I found this book both interesting in how much society and class can be different for us all, even if you live around the corner from someone. But I also found Jean Trumpington to be a very charismatic and witty person, who I imagine is a very head strong and caring about the job she is currently doing.

I also found the book to be a light read compared to other books I have read in the past (the other books also being memoirs of politicians) and has been nice to have a slight giggle w
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.
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. ...more
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.
Angharad Elin
Apr 26, 2020 rated it did not like it
My Gran lent me this book to read and I really, really struggled with it. It has not aged well, but is a good snapshot into the life of the privileged elite, which I really had trouble reading about. Most of her jobs were given to her from friends, family or friends of friends which grinds more and more as you get further into the book.
Really struggled to like any of it.
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. ...more
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.
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!
Don Teale
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very entertaining and very accessible
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.
Erzsebet Pek
Dictated in a hurry...
May 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting life, well written. Entertaining but not really for me.
Jan 01, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting, very easy to read, one enormous name-drop but what a fascinating life and a marvellous character, full of fun and not afraid to say it how it is.
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 p
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 th ...more
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