April 20, 2008

A MEMOIR WITH RESTRAINT? HALLELUJAH!:

Ferdinand Mount, man of many parts: a review of Cold Cream: My Early Life and Other Mistakes by Ferdinand Mount (Richard Davenport-Hines, 4/20/08, Daily Telegraph)

Ferdinand Mount is a baronet who prefers not to use his title, a former nanny to the children of American millionaires who later headed Margaret Thatcher's Downing Street Policy Unit, the most scrupulously intelligent man ever to be appointed as an editor by Rupert Murdoch, the nephew of Anthony Powell, and himself the author of a sequence of novels, 'A Chronicle of Modern Twilight', cherished by all those who like their fiction to be amusing, elegant and expletive-free.

The title of his memoirs comes from a passage of lyrical beauty early in the book. Mount recalls, with tender intensity, his pride at the age of nine in taking his mother breakfast in bed, and afterwards watching her slowly working Pond's cold cream into her face.

He attributed magical powers to the chunky white jars with their sea-green lids. A few years later, his mother died of breast cancer at the age of 42. Her illness, like so much else in this matchless memoir, is described with a restraint that pierces to the heart of experience.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 20, 2008 8:26 AM
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