I’m thrilled to say that The Last Landlady, memoir of my grandmother – and homage to the beleaguered, beloved institution of the pub – is published in the US on October 20th.
Here is a lovely early review from Kirkus, for which many thanks.
Kirkus (Online June 3, Print June 15)
The lost ambience of local pubs is revealed in a warm homage to an indomitable spirit.
“She was the most confident woman I have ever known,” Thompson writes about her glamorous, independent grandmother, the longtime manager of an English pub. Besides offering a loving and vibrant portrait of a woman she “frankly deified,” Thompson examines the pub’s central role in the life of a community, before such venues became gastropubs and twee tourist destinations. “The proper pub,” she notes, “is about far more than having a good time. It accommodates the miserable, the misfits, those who are in their seats at curtain up, having nothing in their lives to make them late: from the moment of waking, they are waiting for the moment of opening.” Her grandmother presided over her motley clientele with toughness, courage, humor, and generosity. The daughter of a pub owner, by the time her father died, she was divorced, and as a single woman could not inherit the business that she knew she was more than capable of running. But the brewery for which she worked for a time granted her a publican’s license—the first, she claimed, for an Englishwoman who was neither a wife nor a widow—and she turned a decrepit country inn into a successful pub. Thompson spent much time there, working behind the bar when she was a teenager, listening to gossip, observing the vagaries of her grandmother’s customers. The pub, she writes, “was not the whole of my life, nothing like, but it was a backdrop that made me feel luckier” than her classmates who were cloistered in their homes for holidays. “I couldn’t actually imagine Christmas in a private house.” Any pub’s landlady, Thompson writes, has to be “part mother, part nanny, part sorceress, part goddess.” Her grandmother fulfilled those roles with panache: “the supreme landlady, with all that was best in the breed writ large upon her.”
A delightful memoir of a fearless and determined woman.