I Know You're Going to be Happy: A Story of Love and Betrayal by Rupert Christiansen

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I Know You're Going to be Happy: A Story of Love and Betrayal by Rupert Christiansen

Category: Autobiography
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Daily Telegraph opera Critic Rupert Christiansen looks back on his parent' marriage which began with such igh hopes and ended so badly.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 176 Date: March 2013
Publisher: Short Books
ISBN: 978-1780721248

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Kathleen Lyon, whose family were respectable and hard working but with no claim to celebrity other than a distant relationship to the Earl of Clanmorris married Michael Christiansen, scion of a newspaper family, in a fashionable London church in 1948. Both were talented and successful journalists and they were very much in love. I know you're going to be happy, wrote a senior Fleet Street figure and Rupert Christiansen wryly points out that this was too tempting to fate. There were two children of the marriage and when Rupert was four and his sister Anna just a few months old Michael Christiansen announced to the family that a photographer from his paper would be coming to take pictures of them all that afternoon - and he then told his wife that their eleven-year marriage was over and he was leaving to live with his secretary.

It left, as you might expect, a deep scar on Rupert (named after the comic strip character) and there's a sense that I Know You're Going To Be Happy is an attempt to rid himself of baggage which he has carried all his life. It's ostensibly a look at the marriage, but Michael Christiansen is, at best, a shadowy image known to his son only through other people and the desertion left his mother hardened and with little confidence in herself. Christiansen's writing is elegant and polished - a pleasure to read - and the story he tells makes for compulsive reading, but nothing can disguise the fact that he's telling a story the facts of which are not completely clear to him or probably to anyone else still alive.

He's remarkably fair to his father - in the circumstances - with only the agonising over the note to go with the flowers for his father's funeral suggesting the depths of his ill will. Understandably he's easier on his mother, recognising the effect his father's betrayal had on her and understanding too the social stigma attached to divorce in the sixties and seventies. But he's not entirely kind to her or to those close to her. She was in a relationship with an American maritime lawyer and Christiansen regretted that it didn't become permanent. I could understand his feeling that he and his sister might well have had a better life. But then he upset me. He quotes from an intimate letter sent to her by the generous lawyer and describes his feelings about prying into this correspondence and ambivalence about exposing such private feelings. It didn't stop him from reproducing the letter overleaf though.

It's an easy read and entertaining about attitudes in the sixties and the seventies but at the end I was left with the feeling that the author probably benefited more from the writing of it than I did from the reading. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For more of the sixties and seventies and attitudes to marital infidelity we think you might enjoy Relish: My Life on a Plate by Prue Leith.

Buy I Know You're Going to be Happy: A Story of Love and Betrayal by Rupert Christiansen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I Know You're Going to be Happy: A Story of Love and Betrayal by Rupert Christiansen at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy I Know You're Going to be Happy: A Story of Love and Betrayal by Rupert Christiansen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I Know You're Going to be Happy: A Story of Love and Betrayal by Rupert Christiansen at Amazon.com.


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