Whatever Next by Anne Glenconner

Reviewed by Clare Brook

Whatever Next? Lessons from an Unexpected Life is a memoir of a privileged life by Anne Glenconner.   Born Lady Anne Coke, the eldest daughter of the 5th Earl of Leicester in 1932, she grew up at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, England.  This is her second memoir, the first published in 2019, Lady in Waiting, was about her time serving Princess Margaret, in an unpaid although high status position.  This new memoir is altogether a more personal account of her life.  Here she reveals that whereas she enjoyed all the benefits of a privileged birth she did not escape a common experience suffered by many women regardless of class, that of domestic violence at the hands of her husband Colin Tennant, who later inherited the title Lord Glenconner.

Anne Glenconner’s honest account of her life illustrates that it is gender that plays a large part defining a life, dictating how to think and behave, regardless of other factors.

The simple truth is that I lived with domestic violence and abuse for most of my marriage.  On some level I always knew that, but I didn’t allow myself to think it. … no one, however glamorous their existence might look from the outside, is immune to ill-treatment, or the feelings of doubt and shame that come with it.

I do feel this memoir will be of comfort to many women who suffer abuse, as well as providing understanding to others.

Glenconner does make clear that her husband could be fun and exciting, always on the go finding the next adventure, especially when he bought a Caribbean Island, but of course it could all turn bad at any given moment.  Stoicism seems to be at the foundation of her life, you had to put up and shut up and just keep going.  It was the same for all women.  Princess Margaret was a wonderful friend she too had some of same problems with her husband at the time Lord Snowdon.  Glenconner’s husband’s final cruelty was to leave the entirety of his estate to his valet.  Rumours circulated that he was bisexual. She is thankful that men and women are now brought up more equally.

There were other griefs that peppered throughout her life.  The death of two sons was a terrible time for her; she endured helped by her Christian faith and, as always, the determination to just keep going.

There are many other highlights in her life that she shares. Now over ninety, Anne Glenconner also provides tips that keeps her fit and slim, along with other survival strategies.

This is an interesting memoir giving a glimpse into another world that is at once so different and yet the same in its suffering.

Whatever Next? Lessons from an Unexpected Life

By Anne Glenconner


Hachette Australia


978 152939 575 4



978 152939 735 2

$24.99; 269pp

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