THE SECRET LIFE OF A SCHOOLGIRL by Rosemary Kingsland
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THE SECRET LIFE OF A SCHOOLGIRL

A Memoir
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A remarkably forgiving account of the author’s teenage affair with married actor Richard Burton and her youth in a turbulent household with congenitally self-absorbed parents.

Novelist Kingsland (After the Ball Was Over, 1985, etc.) recalls without self-pity or recrimination some obviously painful experiences, observing that she may even have been better for them. Born in 1941 in India, she moved to England in 1947 when the colony became independent. Suddenly, this pampered child of the Raj was living in cold, grimy houses her intellectual mother found impossible to run. Her parents fought constantly, and her father saw women he found more congenial; the marriage began to unravel. Rosemary, the second of four siblings, took increasing responsibility for maintaining the household as her mother took to bed. Both parents had been badly scarred by their childhoods, the author acknowledges, but their relationship made home life difficult. Her affair with 29-year-old Richard Burton, whom she met in a London café when she was 14, was in many ways a refuge from the family turmoil. The household was so dysfunctional that no one noticed when she stayed out until early morning, or even when she went away to have an abortion. Kingsland vividly recalls her first sight of Burton, her growing infatuation (she saw all his movies), and the incredible realization of all her fantasies when they became lovers. Widely read, a remarkable conversationalist and lover, Burton was also often unhappy and confessed he felt trapped in his profession. The affair ended soon, and life went on; Kingsland survived to love again and lead an interesting, stimulating existence. Remaining loyal to her mother, she began to appreciate her father’s charm and intelligence as he grew older.

Bitter and sweet memories in an affectionate recollection of an unusual past.

Pub Date: July 8th, 2003
ISBN: 1-4000-4782-X
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2003