I can clearly remember the face of Lord Lucan plastered across the news in the seventies. It is a story that still divides people over forty years later. Did he kill his children’s nanny Sandra Rivett and subsequently attack his wife, or did he interrupt someone who had already done so? There have been valid arguments put forward on both sides. Lady Lucan is in no doubt. Her husband murdered the nanny in a case of mistaken identity and then attacked her. She managed to escape and raise the alarm otherwise he would have finished her off too.
Whatever your feelings and whichever side you are on, this book makes for a fascinating read. There is an inherent melancholy about it that weaves through every page of the beautifully written prose. Much of that sadness lies in the treatment of Lady Lucan for her mental health difficulties. One almost feels that Lady Lucan was condemned by the time in which she lived. Had she been experiencing such difficulties today, then it is certain she would have received the correct treatment and not been continually damned as being ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’. The crux of the book is that Lady Lucan’s children have had nothing to do with her since the early eighties when they went to live with their Aunt and Uncle, the Shand-Kydds. That must have caused her immeasurable pain, but she remains stoical about it or at least feigns it very well, when she declares that sometimes there is no point fighting the inevitable as it will just cause further agony.
This book is undeniably poignant, almost like a final goodbye. I spoke to Lady Lucan just before she killed herself and she appeared to be quite good humoured regardless of the course her life had taken. She had spoken to a television crew for the final time, wrote a book and then, falsely believing that she was suffering from Parkinson’s after self-diagnosing, she took an overdose of tablets and alcohol. An incredibly sad end to such a sad life. In one telling episode she recalls being asked why she did not go to university, “I married a peer of the realm instead.” One almost wonders if she would have led a more fulfilled life if she had taken the other path.
Perhaps the single, positive result from this, is that her book will benefit the homeless charity Shelter, who are the only benefactors of her estate. Lady Lucan also acknowledges that amidst the obsession with what happened to Lord Lucan, we forget the most important person in this case; the victim Sandra Rivett. Lady Lucan apologises that her marriage led to the death of an innocent woman. Above all else, this book shows that having a wealth of privilege and social standing in life, does not necessarily equate to happiness.