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An Education: Inspiration for the film, scripted by Nick Hornby [Paperback]

Lynn Barber
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Oct 2009

Lynn Barber's true story, now a major film of the same name scripted by Nick Hornby.

At 16, Lynn Barber was an ambitious schoolgirl working towards a place at Oxford, when she was picked up at a bus-stop by an attractive older man in a sports car. So began a relationship that almost wrecked her life.

Barber's fascinating memoir takes us beyond this bizarre episode, revealing how it left her with an abiding mistrust of men which paradoxically led her to a promiscuous life-style at university until she met her husband-to-be. An Education tells how she went on to work for seven years at daring (for the times) men's magazine Penthouse before beginning her starry days as the Demon Barber - Britain's most entertaining and most feared interviewer. The book ends with an extraordinarily moving account of the early death of her husband. Her writing is refreshingly frank and funny.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Film tie-in ed edition (15 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141044144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141044149
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 657,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


[Barber s] a suburban girl who s frightened that she s goingto get cut out of everything good that happens in the city.That, to me, is a big story in popular culture. It s the storyof pretty much every rock n roll band.--Nick Hornby, author of the screenplay adaptation of An Education

About the Author

Lynn Barber studied English at Oxford University. She began her career in journalism at Penthouse, and has since worked for a number of major British newspapers and for Vanity Fair. She currently writes for the Observer. She has published two volumes of her celebrated interviews, Mostly Men and Demon Barber.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Only mildly interesting, and very hard to like 9 Nov 2011
By Bookwoman TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This is a book that should come with a couple of warnings.
Firstly, be aware that the story that inspired the recent film An Education [DVD] [2009] only takes up one short chapter. Nick Hornby, Oscar-nominated for the screenplay, padded this one episode out hugely and made a lot of it up. So if you enjoyed the film, you won't necessarily enjoy this memoir of Lynn Barber's life as a journalist.
And secondly, if you're a struggling writer trying to find work in today's cutthtroat media world, don't read this hoping to be inspired, or to pick up a few helpful tips. Because all the stories of how she blithely sailed into a series of highly enviable jobs during yet another liquid lunch at the Groucho Club, or via an old Etonian chum of her husband, or after a chance phone call from a friend of a friend of someone she was at Oxford with, won't do anything other than make you feel angry, or hopelessly defeatist, and possibly both.
She's been very lucky and had a great career writing for and about other people, but this hasn't necessarily made her own story particularly interesting. There are some mildly amusing anecdotes about her time at Penthouse magazine and on Fleet Street, and there's some minor name dropping, but it's hardly fascinating, and it's all stuff that dates very fast.
All credit to her for being brutally honest about her selfishness and impatience - she despised her parents, she begrudged the time she spent bringing up her daughters, and she is mercilessly detached about her husband's death - but it makes her very difficult to understand, let alone like.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 22 Dec 2010
By hevbug
Having seen the film, and having read other reviews, I was expecting a lot from this book, but it didnt deliver.
The whole thing seemed very superficial, I didnt find Lynne Barber a sympathetic person, and became very angry at the way everything was told totally from her perspective, with no thought about the feelings of other people, especially her parents, who seemed to get a raw deal.
I was also upset at her attitude (as shown in the book) to her husbands illness.
Not a book that I'll re-read
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling 13 Dec 2010
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
I have yet to see the film of this book, which is supposed to be wonderful. When I saw the book I was determined to read it, and really could not put it down. It is only a short volume, and I believe only a fragment of the book makes up the subject matter of the film, but it is nevertheless compelling at every turn. I finished it within twenty four hours of picking it up. Barber writes about her life with clarity, a refreshing lack of vanity and humour. I particularly loved the sections of the book about her work at Penthouse and found the last section, dealing with the illness and death of her husband profoundly moving. Barber is articulate, thoughtful and incisive. Her life has been interesting and is more than worthy of a volume four times the size of this one. I hope, one day, she writes more.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gem... 6 Dec 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some reviewers have described Lynn Barber's 'An Education' as cool and unrevealing, but I have to say it didn't seem that way to me at all. On the contrary, 'An Education' is refreshingly concise, direct and, yes, cool - but in a good way. A beautifully written, crisp memoir, covering in - oh joy! - fewer than 200 pages the life to date that has made her the great writer and interviewer that she is.

The book offers a number of clues to how she came to lead a crowded Fleet Street field - not only is she completely open and frank, with a directness that unfairly earned her the soubriquet 'Demon Barber' but why anyone should want to be otherwise baffles her (the hilarious encounter with Alan Whicker, who tries, and fails, to shame her with her previous life in pornography being a case in point).

Word of warning, though, to anyone who comes to this expecting the book of the film - that episode, though clearly key in her developing outlook on life, takes up less than a quarter of the book. Don't let it put you off though - her adventures at the nascent Penthouse and Independent (and the divide between those two august organs gives a clue to her non-judgemental openness) are equally engaging, warm, funny and, yes, human.

A terrific read and entirely of a piece with her other writing. If you like Lynn Barber at all, you'll love this.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A slight let down 12 Aug 2009
I bought this book on the basis of some of the "good" reviews here - not a good idea if you are thinking of doing the same.

Lynn rattles through her life without really telling very much at all, the only chapter which doesn't read as though she is writing for the sake of it, is the chapter about her husband's demise (which is written with feeling and care), the rest of the book is a series of 'I did such and such', 'I went to so and so' without elaborating, also her persistence in telling the reader how intelligent and pretty she was/is is rather tiresome. She also name drops quite a lot but with little effect as no details are given.

The synopsis on the reverse of the book talks mainly of the lover she had from being a sixteen year old and for a couple of years thereafter and how he conned her and her parents, but by her own admission, she was more taken by his friends than she was actually by him, so why devote so much to him - well, because nothing much else of note is in the book, despite her age and varied life.

I am surprised that this is "soon to be the subject of a major film scripted by Nick Hornby" since if it anything like this book, it will have little substance and it will certainly require a lot of poetic licence to make it of interest.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars an unexpected page turner
Brilliantly written, I felt LB was having a revealing chat over a glass or three of wine. I kept wanting to know what happened next, hence the page tuner title. Read more
Published 20 days ago by m. webster
4.0 out of 5 stars Black and white
Lynn Barber says it like it was, straight to the point of what she thought and how she remembers life as a teenager!
Published 2 months ago by Itchsnitchnicky
5.0 out of 5 stars Lynn Barber on the Andrew Marr Show
I liked this journalist and thought I might want to read her book. I enjoyed the book, well written and up front. I like her and her book.
Published 3 months ago by ingrid davis
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading, tedious, self-serving and irritating
When I begin a book, I begin a journey with the writer, entrusting my time and imagination into their world and where their prose leads me. Read more
Published 5 months ago by RCM888
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing
I was inspired to read this book after reading a very funny interview between Lynn Barber and a famous singer, and in preparation for watching the film 'An Education' on DVD. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kate Hopkins
4.0 out of 5 stars wonderfully tart
My only criticism is that the book is too short. There are episodes in the author's life, and mentions of fascinating personalities, which are dealt with in a couple of pages. Read more
Published 6 months ago by L I Fix
5.0 out of 5 stars Lively account of a life of ups and downs
Lynn Barber is extraordinarily frank about her personal life which she describes in a lively style. In the early chapters she describes her relationship, while still a... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Bluebell
5.0 out of 5 stars Short & sweet
Having previously seen and enjoyed the film of 'An Education', I was keen to read about the rest of Lynn Barber's life. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Reddy
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting autobiography
This is an enjoyable and easy read. I have not seen the film, but would definitely be interested after reading this.
Published 19 months ago by EJS
4.0 out of 5 stars For anyone who's interested in a career in journalism
Real-life, as it often is, was far seedier and less romantic than the movies and the young Lynn Barber wasn't starry-eyed and swept off her feet like her film counterpart, Jenny. Read more
Published on 2 Oct 2011 by TG
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