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Liza Campell, née Lady Elizabeth Campbell, was born into a fairy tale. Her father, Hugh, was the 25th thane of Cawdor; their home was Cawdor Castle, Scotland, the infamous "grey, stone fist" of Shakespeare's Macbeth. But while Macbeth focused his destructive attentions on Duncan, Hugh narrowed his on his family, brutalizing them emotionally while squandering the family fortune and neglecting the vast estates that had been in his family for centuries.
A glimpse of wealth and privilege beyond the drawbridge is one aspect that fascinates in this book. But what really draws readers in is Campbell's journey back into a childhood fraught with hatred and spite, made more destructive by the obligation to pretend all was perfect. Pink gin, cocaine, profligate sexuality, and an evil stepmother -- at every turn of the page, Liza's father personified the curse of the Cawdors, distilled through generations into one mentally shattered peer determined to bestow misery on his heirs.
Witty and impossible to put down, A Charmed Life exudes the appeal of a natural humorist whose deadpan narrative never fails to convey the utter absurdity behind the cruelty, and who tries, against terrific odds, to understand her father's demons. Fairy tales don't always come true, but there's nothing of the tragic heroine in Campbell. "Papa was odd," she writes, "but I got even." As Macbeth himself famously warned, "blood will have blood." (Holiday 2007 Selection)