Sunday, 19 December 2010

World Book Night challenge 1/25

Alan Bennett - A Life Like Other People's

This wasn't the first book from the 25 that I intended to read, but when I got to work yesterday I realised that I had forgotten the book that I was actually half way through. No problems as I work in a library but it was serendipitous to find this one on the returns trolley just as my break started.

I've long admired Bennett for his plays and screen plays, and I found his Uncommon Reader a pleasant little story but I'd not read any of his longer or autobiographical works before nor, if I'm honest, had I any inclination to.

This was a real treat. It isn't a happy book by any means but there is such humour amongst the poignancy that it isn't depressing. Bennett comes from a family of genteel eccentrics and his love for them is what shines through this piece of writing. Mental health is not an easy topic to write about either as a witness or sufferer but I found the balance to be struck perfectly in this volume. Bennett neither glamourises it, nor demonises it and appears to be totally honest in writing his reactions to it.

As ever an eloquent review of this book is not forthcoming all I want to do is run around and tell everyone how wonderful it is. Oh and read more of Bennett's autobiography, which won't help my challenge at all as there two volumes of over 600 pages each!

It is a great pick for World Book Night as it is an autobiography by one of our National Treasures TM it isn't overly long and even if you can't relate to the exact issues in Bennett's history his style of writing draws you in regardless.

I hope the next 24 are as good, but this one is going to be hard to beat.

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