As a small child Lily Budge dreamt of escaping from small-town
life, crippling poverty and her terrifying mother. But even she
could not have predicted that after two failed marriages, four
children and several more or less successful ventures to earn a
living she would become Lady Galloway, the wife of the 13th Earl of
Galloway. But Lily's life didn't become any easier: her husband, 12
years her junior, suffered from psychological problems. After an
emotionally restrained childhood, his parents thought him mentally
ill and forced him to undergo a lobotomy. When he met Lily he felt
drawn to her and her caring nature, and they married shortly after.
Lily was reviled by his family as a fortune-hunter, and the ensuing
family feud provided newspaper headlines for years to come. Written
with great sensitivity and understanding this is a touching, but
humorous account of an unusual, eccentric and deeply compassionate
woman. (Kirkus UK)
A vivid and moving portrait of the inimitable Lily Budge, who
overcame poverty and class divide to become the 13th Countess of
Galloway, and one of Scotland's most colourful eccentrics In 1916,
Lily Miller was born into a working class family in Duns, in the
Borders region of Scotland. She became determined to escape, both
from the small town gossip and from her terrifying mother, who
thought Lily was born only to serve. Lily could not have predicted
that her flight would eventually lead her to the heart of the
Scottish establishment. Her spirited, eccentric and at times
self-destructive nature shaped every decision she made, and her
life became increasingly rackety. In 1975, living in Edinburgh as a
self-styled dealer in porcelain dolls, with two failed marriages
and four sons (one adopted) to her name, not to mention posts as a
housekeeper and a boarding house owner, she met Randolph Stewart,
the future 13th Earl of Galloway. On the surface, Randolph's
aristocratic childhood could not have seemed more different. His
was a world of great privilege, emotional restraint and
overwhelming expectation. As an adolescent he had been diagnosed
with schizophrenia and, as a young man, lobotomised. Much of the
rest of his life had been spent hidden away, either in a mental
institution or with a religious order of monks. But a curious bond
formed between Lily and Randolph, and marriage followed, beginning
a deep family feud that was played out in newspaper headlines. Was
such a union doomed to failure? An Unlikely Countess is a
masterpiece of storytelling and biography, teeming with historical
detail and famous names. Louise Carpenter has brought to life not
only two extraordinary characters in Lily and Randolph, but also
the worlds in which they moved, with sensitivity, humour and expert
observation. Her affection for her subjects is matched by a wry
awareness of their idiosyncrasies, and the rich backdrop she paints
serves as a vibrant portrait of twentieth-century Scotland.
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