'My mother was, in the tradition of parents, quite a complicated and contradictory human being. Moralistic but a devout lover of pleasure (food, music, the aesthetics of nature). Deeply religious but seemingly as comforted by singing a secular chanson as by prayer. A lover of the natural world who was visibly anxious every time she left the castle. Fragile, but also though and stubborn. I never knew how many of her oddities had sprung from grief and how many from her own inherent nature. 'There is not one blade of grass, there is no colour in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice,' my mother told me once, shortly after arriving in England.'