Book Beginnings: Spilling the Beans

As I have several books on the go right now (listed on the side bar), it will be some time before I can write a full post about any of them. So I thought I give a taster of one of them to be going on with.

It’s Spilling the Beans by Clarissa Dickson Wright, her autobiography. It begins:

I was conceived in a bath in Norfolk in September 1946. How can I know? Well my mother told me. As she put it they were all exhausted after the war and there weren’t that many opportune occasions. I was born in the London Clinic on 24 June 1947 and my first journey in the world was in a London taxi. My mother had become bored waiting for my father to collect us, so she wrapped me in a blanket, went outside, hailed a taxi and took me home, leaving the luggage for my father to pick up later. The only really good advice my mother ever gave me was, ‘If in doubt take a taxi,’ and I have followed it ever since.

Clarissa Dickson Wright was an English celebrity chef – one of the Two Fat Ladies, a television personality, writer, businesswoman, and former barrister. She died last year on 15 March in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Clarissa was a huge character in more than her size! Her autobiography is fascinating, coming from a privileged and wealthy background she had a difficult childhood- her father, a well respected surgeon was also an alcoholic who beat his wife and Clarissa.

I’ve been reading this book slowly over the last few weeks and have read nearly half of it. After her mother died she took comfort from alcohol and at the mid point of the book she was as she described it ‘sunk in gin’ and homeless. I am looking forward to reading about her road to recovery.

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Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

11 thoughts on “Book Beginnings: Spilling the Beans

  1. I thought this one was fascinating and I liked the fact that she was so honest. I was rather shocked that I read it in January of 2014 and not many months later she passed away.


  2. I used to love that cooking show – the two fat ladies. They were hilarious. I think both of them are now gone, correct? The book sounds interesting. Sad about her father’s abuse.


  3. This sounds interesting, I remember the Two Fat Ladies. I do think it takes great character to leave the alcohol and go on in life. Looking forward to your thoughts as you complete this one.


  4. Hi Margaret,
    It just goes to show that addiction, moral values and cruelty take no heed of social class, wealth, or opportunity.

    I had no idea that Clarissa’s early life had been so traumatic, although it certainly sounds as though she had turned things around and made the very best of herself .

    It sounds as though her father was a little remiss with his wife and daughter, even back when Clarissa was born, and those first lines would have made me smile, if they had not been so poignant sad and indicitive of Clarissa’s early struggle.

    Thanks for sharing,


  5. Margaret – She certainly sounds like a fascinating person, and from what I’ve heard, she really was interesting. The book sounds like a great read, too, and I like the wit.


  6. I bought this one quite a while before she died but didn’t get around to reading it until fairly recently, after the event. It’s an enjoyable read and I liked her no nonsense attitudes too.


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