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Summary

Bloomsbury presents Kiss Myself Goodbye by Ferdinand Mount, read by Paul Blezard.

Aunt Munca never told the truth about anything. Calling herself after the mouse in a Beatrix Potter story, she was already a figure of mystery during the childhood of her nephew Ferdinand Mount. Half a century later, a series of startling revelations sets him off on a tortuous quest to find out who this extraordinary millionairess really was. What he discovers is shocking and irretrievably sad, involving multiple deceptions, false identities and abandonments. The story leads us from the back streets of Sheffield at the end of the Victorian age to the highest echelons of English society between the wars. 

Kiss Myself Goodbye is both an enchanting personal memoir like the author’s best-selling Cold Cream and a voyage into a vanished moral world. An unconventional tale of British social history told backwards, its cryptic and unforgettable protagonist Munca joins the ranks of memorable aunts in literature, from Dickens’ Betsy Trotwood to Graham Greene’s Aunt Augusta.

©2020 Ferdinand Mount (P)2020 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic reviews

"Grimly funny and superbly written, with a twist on every page." (Hilary Mantel)

"Delightfully compulsive and unforgettably original." (Hadley Freeman)

What listeners say about Kiss Myself Goodbye

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CONCENTRATE

Enjoyed it but found you really need to concentrate or its easy to get lost, loads of twists and turns and characters but an amazing story of a unbelievable life. Definitely not a background listen.

8 people found this helpful

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AN ABSOLUTE JEWEL

I don’t normally read biographies but was looking for something different to the usual crime/thriller/historical books I tend to read, and came upon a review of Kiss Myself Goodbye by Hilary Mantel. I am so delighted to have read this book - the story is intriguing, well-written, beautifully narrated.....download it now and you’ll not regret it!

6 people found this helpful

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An intriguing story from a a grade writer.

I’m rather resenting finishing! Have a great read
From a wonderful writer from
Very a very satisfied Bibliophile.

4 people found this helpful

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Jaw Dropping Story

This is an immaculately written account of one of the most complex family histories one could ever imagine. It is beautifully read and as enthralling as any novel.

3 people found this helpful

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Amazing true story...

Astounding life of a lady wrapped in lies. Her unbelievable web of untruths that ran through not only her life but the lives of the people around were totally due to her and seem impossible and unserstainable....but clearly not. A great read.

3 people found this helpful

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Exploring Munca's 'ziggurat of lies'

What a wonderful time Ferdinand Mount has had researching this rich fount of fantastic lies woven into a massive web of destructive deceit by his Aunt Munca! This is a glorious family history too outrageous for fiction with ever yet more astounding revelations in every chapter. I loved it.
So who was Aunt Munca? She was married to Mount's uncle, his father's brother, for over 20 years, but Munca (a portentous sign that she abandoned all names except that of Beatrix Potter's Bad Mouse!) made sure that her previous lives were unknown to the wealthy family she finally fortuitously (for her) married into.
Through years of painstaking research Mount has discovered all. The 1930s popular song which he has taken for the title of his book opens with "I'm gonna kiss myself goodbye / goodbye, goodbye / I'm gonna get my wings and fly / Up high, up high". And boy! From her lamentably impoverished childhood in Sheffield, a dead labourer-father and a scant education in the unmerciful institution run by the Sisters of Mercy for the the very poor, did Munca fly!
Through years of name changes, she constructed what Mount calls her 'ziggurat of lies' (his language is always satisfyingly choice and frequently witty) in which she lived her lives. Munca's determination to hide her secrets discovered only after her death by Mount led her to disguising, amongst other gems, not just 3 bigamous marriages; an unacknowledged sister; an adopted daughter Georgie whose life she ruined; another adopted child Celeste who she later returned unwanted; a fantasy father and a car-crazed, 7 times married 'brother' who was in fact her son.
Mount worries away at questions and finds the answers. How did Munca win the commission in the late 1930s to arrange the multi-million interior decor of Charters, the sky-high expensive country house, the last ever to be built in England? How did she pay for her permanent suite in Claridges and all the other fabulous expenditure? The most extraordinary answer comes on virtually the last page.
Excellent narration of brilliant research brilliantly shaped into a brilliant book!

2 people found this helpful

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Magnificent family story/detective work

Ferdinand Mount’s aunt reinvented herself several times over her life. Excellent! Beautifully read and performed

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I'll certainly listen to Kiss Myself Goodbye again

I loved "Kiss Myself Goodbye'. The story is interesting and exciting - and a real page-turner. We follow the author's researches - backwards and forwards and sideways, taking in a fascinating cast of minor characters. I laughed out loud very often at Mr Mount's observations.
The book is beautifully written. The author is a complete master of words - just the right tone, just the right word, just the right cadence to a sentence to communicate sympathy, amusement, or surprise as he unfolds the amazing and fascinating story of Aunt Manca. What a story! The contemporary references to T.S. Eliot, W.E. Johns, David Dimbleby, and many other well-known people whose lives brushed hers place the story firmly in the time he is describing. And the places where the action took place are described vividly. Particularly fascinating was his description of Manca's time in Crawford Mansions where she lived below T.S. Eliot at a time when Marylebone was a slum.
I was so pleased to read the last chapter to find out what had happened to everyone in the story. What meticulous research Mr Mount has done.

Paul Blezard's reading was wonderful! He makes it sound as if he wrote the book himself - he's so much in sympathy with the author and his intentions.

1 person found this helpful

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incredibly detailed account

Although thought provoking, the minute steps of puzzling the life of the key character together were a little too detailed for me.

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Brilliant

Extraordinary story brilliantly written and beautifully read. Loved every minute of it. Didn’t want it to end.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-02-21

A great story delivered flawlessly

I think this would have been a great book to read but on audible it was perfect. The story hooked me immediately, his family is not only interesting by themselves but tangentially connects to many people you will have heard of.

Each time you think you have finally figured out what the conclusion will be of his aunt's life you discover the story is bigger and more complex than you could have imagined.

I also can't say enough about the delivery. I suspect the story would come off as somewhat humorous if you read it, but the delivery is so wry, the accent so perfect that I occasionally laughed out loud.

Strong recommendation for this book

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  • Vlr
  • 14-06-21

Superbly written, superbly narrated, deeply touching book!

Not at all my genre, I thought, but give it a go…
How glad I did. Wise words beautifully written, funny, speaking of history, dogged pursuit of that which lies beneath, the messy lives we lead, our sins of commission and omission. Bravo, bravissimo, Mr. Ferdinand Mount!

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  • Anna M. Sides
  • 08-03-21

Time lost

I kept waiting and waiting for something of interest to happen but this story is as dull as dirt!! The only thing worse than the story was the God awful readers accent. More boorishness British.