Anyone who's ever dreamed of growing up in a castle will be happy to learn that it's all it's cracked up to be, and more. (The "more" would be the not-so-pleasant parts.)
Author Liza Campbell grew up in Scotland, more specifically, in Cawdor Castle. She is the second of five children born to the 25th Thane of Cawdor and the last child to actually be born in the famed castle.
Campbell's beautifully written memoir, A Charmed Life: Growing Up in Macbeth's Castle (St. Martin's, 323 pages, $24.95), details the ups and downs of such a legacy...
The book is not only an interesting history lesson from a modern perspective, but also a poetic tribute from a daughter/sister to her family, with whom she shares this unique heritage.
It's little wonder Campbell became a writer. In the Prologue, she tells us she comes from a family of letter-writers:
"My childhood was punctuated by long spells away from home, and the pining for it was both intensified and assuaged by the steady flow of letters. The high point of any school day was to see the corner of an envelope protruding from my pigeonhole. The love I felt for my parents was only ever stumblingly expressed right at the end of letters ... Their love and my love existed in a silent, inky world. We were brought up proficient in the art of talking about what we thought, but not in the messier art of how we felt. ... The reason wny we found it so much easier to express ourselves in writing than in speech can be traced back to a sexual misadventure in Edwardian times."
Here's another particularly poetic passage:
"When Emma I were very young, our parents lived at Stackpole [in Wales]. The house stood near the sea in Pembrokeshire. The coastline there is made up of coves and caves and limestone cliffs pierced by swallow holes that boom like gigantic didgeridoos when the surf hits them at high tide. Erosion of the limestone had produced any number of spindly, natural arches. Surely, it was these flying buttresses of nature that inspired medieval cathedral designers. In some places the arches have collapsed, leaving freestanding stacks out at sea where puffins nest."