Cover Image: Diamonds at the Lost and Found

Diamonds at the Lost and Found

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Member Reviews

It was the title and the cover which drew me to this book alongside the fact that this year I had set myself the task of reading more memoir or non-fic. I had no real prior knowledge of this book before I started apart from what the blurb said. 

So what did I think?

It was fine. It kept my attention, mostly, although there were some bits I found myself skimming over to get to a place where something actually happened. I can't say I felt very connected to either the author or her mother Audrey although she was an interesting woman and definitely a product of her time. I like that she bucked the social norms in many ways and forged her own path however her absolutely quest for a man made me sad because actually when you get down to it she was more than capable of looking after herself.

I found the ending kind of flat too. Basically everyone was OK and she lived a full and happy life, both the author and her Mother. I feel like maybe a more frank conversation with Audrey at the end, looking back on her life and what she thought about it all would have made for great reading. After all it was her story that was wild and interesting not the authors.

It was an OK read but missed the mark for me overall.
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I absolutely adored this memoir and found it to be a wonderfully compelling read. It's entertaining, escapist, warmly told and gives a great sense of time and place. I felt that I was there alongside Audrey and Sarah, living their adventures. Highly recommended.
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I really enjoyed this memoir! I knew nothing about the author, and I enjoyed reading about her childhood around the world, following her mum Audrey as she travels, always hoping to meet a rich man who will give her everything she wants. The chapters alternate between Audrey's youth - before she had her daughter, the narrator Sally - and when Sally is a young girl, having lost her father recently. It was a bit confusing at the beginning, but it all came together toward the middle of the book. I really enjoyed reading it - they have some fabulous adventures together, on a cruise in Asia, visiting Egypt, staying in a country house in England, spending time in the US...You get to really feel Sally's confusion, admiration, and at times warinness - why are they moving again, where are they going, for how long... Despite the book being all about Audrey, you get the feeling that the narrator doesn't quite manage to understand her fully and I liked that the main character remained quite mysterious, and that her motivations are unknown or unclear. It was well-written and the life they describe is fabulous - between working odd jobs here and there, or operating an illegal business, to living the high life, meeting celebrities (Clark Gable!) and relying on the generosity of friends to live a life of luxury. Truly fascinating.
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A wild ride of a read.A memoir of a mother and daughter ,the adventure they had their life of world travel of mixing with stars of living in unusual places.Finally the grown daughter finally trying to understand who her mother really was.
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Absolutely fantastic book. I loved reading about the escapades the authors mother and her got up to. I am young so had to google most of the names to find out who they were, and listened to the Hedda Hopper song on YouTube! It was wonderful imagining how glamorous it all was. 
Thank you for sharing the stories with us.
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This is a fascinating memoir of Sally and her mother, the irrepressible, irresponsible, incorrigible, Audrey.     Sally is eight, when we meet her, sitting with her mother in a Hong Kong hotel.   The scene which follows is, literally, so shocking that, for a moment, I was unsure what I had read.   The most shocking part is that, for Sally, her mother’s behaviour has been normalised.

This biography follows the lives of Sally, and Audrey, from their beginnings in Southport, to the life that unfolded, as the normality of family life is replaced by an endless quest for love and a continuous road trip.   From American to Australia and many other places in-between, Sally finds herself following Audrey around the world.  Sometimes, there is glitz and glamour, but, at other times, there is panic and, always, instability.   Now, as an adult, she tries to unravel the meaning behind this life and her conflicting feelings towards her mother.  Audrey comes across as, at her best, bewitching and amusing, but also, as Aspinall admits, selfish and demanding.

Reading this, you do feel that the author has emerged as a strong, capable woman.   However, there are definitely feelings of anger there; particularly about her interrupted and sporadic education, at points.  You sense that she was often confused by this unconventional, nomadic existence and yearned for structure and the boredom of daily routines, that we often do not appreciate until they are gone.   This would be a good choice for reading groups, as there is so much to discuss.   I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
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Diamonds at the Lost and Found is Sarah ( known as Sally as a girl) Aspinall's story of her mother, Audrey's, incredible life,and how it affected her own life.
Audrey was a precocious young girl living in a poor part of Liverpool before WW2 known for her song and dance routines and entertaining stories . She also worked as a Bookies runner for her Dad ,going into rough pubs and dealing with rough men ,who were sometimes violent or abusive. Audrey always dreamed of better things,mixing with the stars and seeing the world. Where she ended up was Southport with life as a housewife ahead of her. Undeterred she took off for America and adventure, convinced that the love of her life would be there when she returned. Things didn't work out that way but she eventually got married and had a daughter and as normal a life as anyone running  betting shops and having "girls working for her" can. Hardly a homebird Audrey parties and leaves Sally and her dying husband at home. After his death Audrey embarks on a world tour with Sally in tow to find "the one",the man who will look after her and let her lead a life of glamour. 
Audrey's journey is an incredible one and the girl from Liverpool does indeed mix with the stars ,using her personality to  access the rich and famous,and household names litter the narrative. Audrey has no shame,training Sally to approach men for her before sending her to bed and not being seen until the next morning. The lengths to which she goes to attract the attention of one of her targets,who eventually marries her, are quite incredible and if the book had been a work of fiction would be comedy genius. 
Sally 's life was far from normal,something she resents at one point in her life before realising quite how amazing it has been. She very honestly tells of some pretty awful behaviour of her own and the book is as much about her changing relationship with Audrey at different ages as their adventures.
I must admit I had no idea who Sarah (as Sally has reverted to) Aspinall is but I loved this book,famous names are dropped  like confetti throughout it's pages  in the stories of both women and there are some great anecdotes.
My favourite was the story of Mick McManus ,who most under 50 probably won't have heard of but back in the golden days of tv wrestling when millions would watch on a Saturday afternoon was the arch bad guy,the guy who punched opponents behind the referees back to howl;s from the audience. He was also the chief choreographer but that's another story. This gnarled old bruiser sees the young Sally bored at  a party and takes her into a room where they painstakingly create a new perfume from a set she's been given for Christmas,not a side of Mick most would have suspected existed back then.
Aside from the great story Sarah Aspinall can really write as well and her insight and honest examinations of both herself and Audrey brings the book to life, an excellent read.

Thanks to Sarah Aspinall , 4th Estate and Netgalley for an ARC in return for an honest review.
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I made a resolution to read more non fiction/ memoirs this year and I'm so glad that I did. 
I wasn't particularly familiar with Sarah Aspinall before reading this book but it didn't matter at all. I was so quickly engaged with the story of young Sally (Sarah) and her mother Audrey (who was a fascinating character) as they travelled around the world chasing Audrey's dreams of a fabulous life and giving Sally an unconventional childhood as a result.  I loved how the book began like a love letter to Southport,  which I didn't know much about although I have visited a close friend who lives there, before taking us around the world in search of love? money? hope? I'm not exactly sure what the 'it' that Audrey was chasing was but I enjoyed the journey. 
I had to keep reminding myself that this was a memoir and not a novel because the 'story' was so wild. I loved seeing the way that Sally changed as she grew up and how Audrey changed through her eyes. Her childhood and the way her mother brought her up, clearly shaped the person that Sally became although she did go through a rocky patch in her early teens, for the same reason. The ending of the book was to be expected but never-the-less left me devastated, I don't think that counts as a spoiler but apologies if you do. I know it's an over used expression but this book really will make you laugh and cry........and occasionally gasp in shock. I miss it already, which is always the sign of a great read for me. 

I urge everybody to read this shining diamond of a book, see what I did there?
Thank you to 4th Estate Books and NetGalley for the advanced copy.
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This is athe story of Sally and her mother. They certainly had an eventful life and it made for interesting reading. 
It is written from Sally's viewpoint, first as a child and as she was growing up . That leaves the reader with questions because the reasoning behind some decisions is not clear.  This does however, give the reader a good idea about  how unsettled  Sally's early life was and I ended up with a feeling of respect that she has turned into a well adjusted adult . 
I enjoyed most of the descriptions of places and people .
From a technical point of view, there were some pages missing from my book, but it didn't affect reading too much .... 
Thankyou to Net Galley, the publishers and author for an interesting read
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I forgot, for the first part of this book that it was a biography and not a novel, it seemed so unlikely. It is a full on picaresque romp across the globe with various increasingly famous and unlikely people popping up. I put it down at this point and re-read the synopsis only to find that this did in fact all happen, which made the reading experience much more interesting. It's quite the life, or lives, as Audrey takes her child Sarah along with her on her various travels. I enjoyed Sarah's narrative because it very cleverly wove between her understanding of her life and her mother as an adult and her experience as a child without losing the child like wonder or anxiety or feelings at all. It was beautifully written.
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