Elisabeth's Lists

Elisabeth's Lists : A Life Between the Lines

3.85 (121 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

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Many years after the death of her grandmother, Lulah Ellender inherited a curious object - a book of handwritten lists.

On the face of it, Elisabeth's lists seemed rather ordinary - shopping lists, items to be packed for a foreign trip, a tally of the eggs laid by her hens. But from these everyday fragments, Lulah began to weave together the extraordinary life of the grandmother she never knew - a life lived in the most rarefied and glamorous of circles, from Elisabeth's early years as an ambassador's daughter in 1930s China, to her marriage to a British diplomat and postings in Madrid under Franco's regime, post-war Beirut, Rio de Janeiro and Paris. But it was also a life of stark contrasts - between the opulent excess of embassy banquets and the deprivations of wartime rationing in England, between the unfailing charm she displayed in public and the dark depressions that blanketed her in private, between her great appetite for life and her sudden, early death.

Throughout Elisabeth's adult life, the lists were a source of structure and comfort. And now, as Lulah learns that she is losing her own mother, she finds herself turning to her grandmother's life, and to her much-travelled book of lists, in search of meaning and solace.

Elisabeth's Lists is both a vivid memoir and a moving study of the familial threads that binds us, even beyond death.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 21mm | 282g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1783783850
  • 9781783783854
  • 355,840

Review quote

[A] tender memoir... A moving, evocative read. Five stars -- Eithne Farry * Sunday Express * Go to your "books to read" list and place Elisabeth's Lists right at the top. It is charming without ever being whimsical and a vital voice as Elisabeth asserts her right to be more than simply a diplomat's daughter or ambassador's wife. A valuable record from a woman we are only now getting to know -- Damian Barr This is a hauntingly beautiful meditation on life and death -- PD Smith * Guardian * With great compassion and imagination, Elisabeth's grand-daughter Lulah tenderly brings to life the grandmother she never knew -- Elisa Segrave, author of * The Girl from Station X: My Mother's Unknown Life * A lovely read * BBC Radio Scotland * Varied, revealing, sad and funny. It wears its research lightly but still manages to inform and delight. I expect [...] readers will thoroughly enjoy it -- Gill Davies * Shiny New Books blog * Vivid and atmospheric -- Martin Gayford * Chap * Extraordinary... A love letter to the grandmother the writer never knew * People * A perceptive and original first book, it is as much a meditation on the meaning of lists as it is a biography -- Bee Wilson * LRB * An intelligent and moving family narrative -- Selected by Honor Clerk as a book of the year * Spectator *
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About Lulah Ellender

Lulah Ellender's writing has appeared in the Guardian, YOU magazine, EasyLiving and Green Parent, among others. She lives in Lewes, East Sussex, with her husband and four children. This is her first book.
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Rating details

121 ratings
3.85 out of 5 stars
5 31% (37)
4 34% (41)
3 28% (34)
2 5% (6)
1 2% (3)
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