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A Life Like Other People's Hardcover – 3 Sep 2009

64 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (3 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571248128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571248124
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.3 x 17.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 274,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alan Bennett has been one of our leading dramatists since the success of Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s. His television series Talking Heads has become a modern-day classic, as have many of his works for stage including Forty Years On, The Lady in the Van, A Question of Attribution, The Madness of George III (together with the Oscar-nominated screenplay The Madness of King George), and an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. At the National Theatre, London, The History Boys won numerous awards including Evening Standard and Critics' Circle awards for Best Play, an Olivier for Best New Play and the South Bank Award. On Broadway, The History Boys won five New York Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critcs' Circle Awards, a New York Drama Critics' Award, a New York Drama League Award and six Tony's. The Habit of Art opened at the National in 2009. His collection of prose, Untold Stories, won the PEN/Ackerley Prize for autobiography, 2006. The Uncommon Reader was published in 2007.

Product Description

Review

`A beautiful little book, full of love regret and the dignity of unremarkable lives.' --Daily Mail

`This poignant memoir is Bennett at his superlative best.' --Val Hennessy

`It's the small details at which Bennett excels, lending poignancy to otherwise unremarkable moments.' --Aberdeen Press & Journal

Book Description

A Life Like Other People's is the acclaimed title piece from Alan Bennett's bestselling collection Untold Stories.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Old Surbitonian on 26 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
I didn't realise that this book was extracted from Bennett's "Untold stories" until I received it. As I had read that and enjoyed the former immensely when it was published in 2005 I felt rather disappointed.

It was worth re-reading even though I had a copy of the original on shelves a few feet away. I blame the reviewer in the Yorkshire Evening Post who did't say (or notice) that the work wasn't original. Partly my own fault as well for not checking carefully before I bought it.
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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful By I. Sondel on 6 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
These days Alan Bennett is enjoying a well deserved renaissance with a new play The Habit of Art opening this month in London, plus the recent hit play/film The History Boys, novel The Uncommon Reader and Pen/Ackerley Prize winning non-fiction collection Untold Stories remain fresh in our minds. This new volume was lifted in it's entirety from Untold Stories, and deservedly so. In A Life Like Other People's the openly gay Bennett tells with great wit and measured sentimentality the story of his parents and maternal aunts.

We are treated to truly inspired reminisces of the author's earliest and formative years. The story of how his parents met, and their absurd wedding ceremony (or lack there of), his mothers mental illness, and his father's all consuming steadfastness. There is a poignant scene of visiting his mother in an asylum; a harrowing scene of searching for an aunt with Alzheimer's who's slipped away from her hospital ward. There are revelations of family secrets, as well as ribald stories of marital misadventure. Finally there is a heartrending scene in a nursing home between mother and son that left this reader gob smacked by the purity of the writing.

This volume (which I ordered from Amazon.UK) is a precious gift of memories and observations, anecdotes and personal judgments harsh, humorous and unabashedly honest
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads on 16 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
A Life Like Other People's, which I keep wanting to call A Life Amongst Others though I have no idea why, is about his formative years though mainly it looks at the relationships of his parents. I don't have any of Bennett's previous diaries and memoires to compare this too, though I will be making sure that changes, though what I have always loved about Bennett is his `real writing'. He looks at people, and himself, and the actions of real people their emotions there thoughts the whole gambit. There are no tricks and though there is often drama its never written to be dramatic or to gain readers its simply life.

The simplistic and honest writing style is incredibly endearing. Scenes can be quite harrowing and emotional and yet there will be some slight comedy around the corner, its not intentional or planned it's just the way it is. Two scenes that really hit me were between him and his mother, which almost made me cry, and his mother searching for her sister in a dementia ward. I loved the story of his parents wedding and why there were no pictures as his parents didn't want any `splother'. You will have to read the book to find out just what that means and how they got around it and I cant recommend you do that highly enough.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
I have come to an appreciation of Alan Bennett late in life, but I am not disappointed that I didn't discover him earlier. Everything I have seen or read of his so far has been wonderful and gives me a great sense of satisfaction that I still have a large back catalogue of his material to go at. This story of his parents' relationship, and by connection his extended family life, is a gem. I understand that it has been taken from a longer volume, Untold Stories, which I will be putting on my Christmas list in eager anticipation.

This short volume is by turns achingly funny and achingly sad. It tells a story of complex family relationships and that peculiar love/hate relationship we have with our parents as we grow into adulthood. It is beautifully paced, totally unsentimental and yet full of love. Bennett has that wonderful quality of being able to write with clarity about his own mixed emotions that makes what he writes about seem tender and true.

A wonderful book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By N. A. Spencer on 20 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
Whatever your thoughts may be on Alan Bennett's varying works, I would not let it deter you from reading `A Life Like Other People's'. Originally released in 2005 in the compilation `Untold Stories' it was released on it own in 2009. It is a beautifully honest account of Alan Bennett's childhood through to adulthood and the relationships he had with his parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles. He recounts with humour and feeling his early relationship with his mother and father and how he grew to understand and appreciate their foibles. He recounts the family gatherings of his youth at Christmas with recurring trips to the same family members and the feeling of relief when it was all over; something I feel most people will be able to empathise with. Also ever present throughout the book are his two aunties (his mother's sisters) Kathleen and Lemira (Myra), two unmarried aunts, totally mischievous and a complete opposite to his mother. All the family is written about with sincerity and admiration and a good sprinkling of humour that had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. One example being a photo from Aunty Myra's many albums (always out for family visits) from her days in the W.A.A.F. The photograph in question is of two Australian soldiers `Jordy' and `Ossie' in bush hats and bathing trunks. This in itself may not appear remarkable until you turn the page of the book and read what the playful devil may care Myra had written and imagine a twelve year old Alan Bennett scanning through these albums. I will leave it to future readers to discover this incident and the many other amusing anecdotes that appear throughout this book.
The latter part of the book reflects on Alan Bennett's relationship with his family as they grow older and the challenges that arise.
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