My Life As A Wife
(Timewell Press, 2008)
They met in the back offices of Private Eye. He was the proprietor, the man the press called the Emperor of Satire, who every girl in London wanted to date. She was the reluctant debutante, an art student, and the office typist. Their affair was secret, and passionate, and days at the office were followed by nights in her Pimlico flat. When things got tricky, she swapped London for Mexico. He followed and proposed. She was just twenty-one when they married.
Luard's fascinating, witty and often brave memoir charts forty years of marriage to a man who was as cavalier and unreliable as he was charismatic and charming. Good-looking and athletic, with a keen intelligence and a deep understanding of and love for women, Nicholas Luard was also an absentee father, a philanderer, a wheeler-dealer whose numerous harebrained business schemes usually lost rather than made money, and ultimately a man whose love of the bottle was all-consuming. But while life with Nicholas was never going to be easy, it was also never going to be dull.
In My Life as a Wife, award-winning writer Elisabeth Luard tells the story of her life with this hugely glamorous and extraordinary maverick of a man. She traces their years spent together in London, Spain, France, the Hebrides and Wales, with four children, one of whom died tragically from AIDS. It is a journey littered with numerous eccentric friends and innumerable escapades, often staying just ahead of the bank, through to the grim days of her husband's terrifying descent into alcoholism and insanity, his liver transplant and ultimately his death.
Yet this is a story of laughter and hope as well as sadness - the healing power of children, the comfort of the kitchen table, the delight of good food and the simple joy of making life work - written by a woman of spirit.
SAMPLE RECIPE From My Life As A Wife
Chilled sorrel soup
Sorrel has soft, heart-shaped leaves and a subtle, lemony flavour which comes through clearly in a cold soup. If sorrel eludes you, arugula leaves (rocket) and a squeeze of lemon-juice will fool all but the keenest palate.
2 generous handfuls sorrel or arugula plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
900ml/1 1/2 pints strong chicken stock
125ml/1/4 pint creme fraīche
Salt and pepper
Drop the sorrel in a pan with a pinch of salt and the butter (save a few leaves for decoration), lid tightly and shake over the heat for 2-3 minutes, until the leaves collapse.
Transfer the contents of the pan to the liquidiser with the stock and the flour, and process till smooth - or finely chop the sorrel, blend with the flour and add the stock. Tip everything back into the pan and bring to the boil, whisking till it thickens a little and no longer tastes of raw flour. Whisk in the cream (save a little for finishing). Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool.
Serve chilled, finishing each portion with a swirl of cream and a sorrel leaf.