I am having a little bit of an obsessive dive into the world of one specific author: Alan Bennett, the intelligent, sell deprecating, highly observant British screen and play writer, in fact, Northern English screen and play writer (UK fellow bloggers will get the difference).
I knew how enjoyable his work is by ‘hear say’ and decided to stop being a passive fan, barely able to chip in the occasional arty-farty conversation at parties, and do the leg work myself. Nothing better than bankruptcy to feed my passion for books at low prices! A lovely bookstore closed on Christmas eve, after over 30 years trading, and in I went looking for some Alan Bennett bargains. I know what you are thinking: ‘Blimy, does Ofglassandbooks always have to rejoice at somebody else’s tragedy?’ I will add that I did thank the owner for the joy he brought to our family of readers over the past few months since relocating to his town, but he seemed suspicious of my thanks as I walked out of his shop carrying a pile of heavily discounted books and singing Carols into the chilly air.
Back to Alan Bennett. My favourite book is the Talking Heads monologues. Look up A Lady of letters, also exquisitely performed by actress Patricia Routledge (watch it on YouTube!) I love the hilarious twist of events and the stubborn self belief that Bennett’s characters have that they are in the right; that their way of life is THE way of life. Aren’t we all a bit like that?
But let me return to the title of this post, with which I shall end. Lady in the Van is a delicious novel of autobiographical flavour. Bennett ends up hosting at the back of his garden, by a combination of his own weakness of character and kindness, the irascible, rude, impertinent and mysterious borough tramp. It’s a lady who takes and never gives, and who hides a most fascinating secret past. This act of weakness and kindness on Bennett’s part lasts the good part of 15 years. Can you believe it?
Well, you will have to read the book or watch the film to find out. I did both and neither disappointed.
All the best,