Lisa St Aubin de Teran, the wild woman wunderkind of the literary scene four decades ago is back with another memoir Better Broken than New: A Fragmented Memoir. Her life might be described as novelesque except it would be deemed overblown as fiction.
She was conceived in a mental hospital where her four-times divorced mother was being treated for suicidal depression. At 16 she ran off with a schizophrenic Venezuelan landowner-turned-bank robber who had been stalking her and escaped a murder-suicide pact only to find herself trapped in a haunted Norfolk castle with the Scottish poet George MacBeth. Then she eloped with the painter who had been commissioned to do her portrait. A ruined Mozambique palace came next with a former war correspondent. Now she lives in a houseboat in Chelsea harbour.
A Times review careers through her madcap lifestyle: “across three continents, three marriages (with a child from each) and endless madcap exploits (love affairs, assassinations, car crashes, comas, costume parties, violent attacks, prison sentences, exotic illnesses, a hunger so fierce she ate dog food.” “There are walk-on parts for Malcolm X, the Queen Mother, Andy Warhol and a serial killer and cannibal called Ivan Russian Schmitter who shared a prison cell with her first husband, Jaime Teán, and later tried to seduce the author’s mother.”
What appears to have brought her down to earth was a “life changing” home invasion in 2015 in Mozambique by a gang of 18 machete wielding robbers which she and her partner fought off.
She said before this – “I’ve always been careless. I go to places and do things and people say, ‘Ooh, that’s really dangerous,’ but I’ve always been unaware. I would see myself as someone who could walk through a minefield and nothing would blow up.” The attack appears to have finally brought reality home.
She was born 2 October 1953 10am London, with an 11th house Libra Sun which sounds surprisingly well balanced. But what dominates her chart is a Half Grand sextile from a lucky Jupiter in her 8th (giving her no fear of death?) trine a 12th house Neptune, Mercury, Saturn in Libra, sextile Pluto conjunct her Midheaven. The neurotic Neptune Saturn in the 12th will be a hint of the unsettled mental state of her mother during pregnancy. Pluto on her 10th would make her susceptible to dominating partners but also defensively controlling herself. Such a strong Pluto would ramp up the dramatic factor in her life. She also has the can-be-passionate, romantically impulsive, inclined-to-infidelity Venus Mars conjunction in Virgo in her 10th. Her Saturn Mercury Neptune are also square Uranus, giving her an obsessive, unrealistic and disruptive streak.
Her Sun and Leo Moon are in sextile but otherwise not well integrated into her chart. Perhaps why Johanna Thomas-Corr, the Times reviewer, describes her as ‘unmoored.’
Of the book she says: “It is one of the most bonkers life stories I’ve read. Published by a tiny London press, it is a riveting — if rather disjointed — read, one that conjures up a lost world of international bohemianism in which freedom fighters, poets, artists, opera singers and the odd stray python shack up in semi-feudal situations.”