The cameo appearances of various menfolk happen across three main stages of Eileen’s life, from her war work, through being a hotelier, to the present day – where Eileen had her first book published at the age of 89!
I was a little perturbed on reading the press release that John Barrowman seemed to be highlighted as one of the main ‘stars’ featured in the book, when I’m sure most of Eileen’s fans, like me, are probably far more interested to hear about historical figures than contemporary ones. (As my other half so eloquently put it, “Who hasn’t met John Barrowman?!”) It was with relief then that I read on to discover mentions of a huge range of men from the 1940s onwards, including actors, politicians, and key military personnel.
This book is easy to read and even dip in and out of, as unlike Eileen’s autobiography, ‘An Extraordinary Life’, it’s a series of snapshots rather than a tapestry of threads. I suppose this means that now and again I was left wanting more – more emotions, more understanding of the importance someone had in Eileen’s life, or a bit more clarity over what seemed to be a jump in the timeline. All of which, can be found in the autobiography and is simply not the point of this book.
Of course it’s wonderful to come across some famous names – Rex Harrison, Hugh Dowding, Idi Amin and Peter Cook all crossed paths with Eileen. The real heart of this book however is found in the descriptions of men we haven’t even heard of before: Eileen’s husband, son, first love.
I had the great pleasure of meeting Eileen some years ago and was struck by her determination, self-confidence and intelligence, as well as a wonderfully wicked sense of humour. I think her character is beautifully portrayed in this quote from the book:
“There are men I have loved, men I have loathed, men I have despised and men I have admired. There are ones who taught me, shocked me and amused me. There were some that I was able to teach. But among these men, it is for me to know and you to wonder how many I slept with!”
‘Men I Have Known’ by Eileen Younghusband is published by Candy Jar books. I received a copy for review – but as always, views and words are my own!