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Romany and Tom: A Memoir Paperback – 13 Feb 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; Export/Airside ed edition (13 Feb. 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1408853191
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408853191
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.7 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 606,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Neither sentimental nor savage, yet often wise, moving and entertaining within the same paragraph, Romany and Tom is a major achievement to rival any of Watt's recordings Guardian You know when everyone last month was going 'Ben Watt's Romany & Tom is amazing?' I've just read it. It really is Caitlin Moran Romany and Tom may be the most beguiling book you'll read all year ... He has a songwriter's gift for the deft phrase, while his powers of observation and recall are quite extraordinary ... Rather like Watt's musical compositions ... this book is at once downbeat and uplifting Mail on Sunday A poignant, life-affirming work Financial Times INCREDIBLE ... I read it in two huge gulps. It's funny, incredibly moving, beautifully written, really thought-provoking Alexis Petridis Forget Morrissey: Romany & Tom is the most beautiful, compelling memoir by a musician you'll read for a very long time John Niven [An] elegantly written and clear-sighted memoir ... Romany and Tom is a tender work infused with the understanding that this is the final chapter of two rich and complex lives ... Watt's reluctance to sentimentalise the experience makes it that much more powerful, cutting to the heart of the frustrations that come with caring for one's parents who were, not long ago, just like us Independent on Sunday It is a beautiful book, a story which will resonate with many and in many different ways. There are moments when I laughed and parts when I had to stop reading for a bit, draw breath and then continue Gideon Coe, BBC 6 Music Watt has written about personal trauma before in his 1996 memoir Patient. This ... pulses with the same combination of clarity and kindness. Unsentimental and humane Telegraph Closely observed, brilliantly written and unsparing David Hepworth As a DJ and one half of Everything But The Girl (with his partner Tracey Thorn), Ben Watt knows better than most the impact fame can have on identity. But in his poignant new memoir, Romany and Tom, he channels that knowledge through his parents' lives Harper's Bazaar

Book Description

An extraordinary achievement. A moving, funny and beautifully written memoir by musician, DJ and writer Ben Watt which carefully chronicles his parents' lives, their marriage and their decline into old age --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By MR R L MANLEY on 24 Mar. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Could any memoir really be as good as all of these professional reviewers suggest? In my view, for once the answer is actually yes. If you have any familiarity with Ben Watt, or even if you don’t, this is a revealing and engaging story. Apart from being intelligent, reflective and well-written, it feels to be a story openly and honestly told; extremely rare traits in the vast majority of autobiographies.
Ben is probably best known as a musician and songwriter, one half of EBTG with Tracey Thorn, DJ, “Buzzin’ Fly” producer. But he is also a very good writer indeed, if not exactly prolific. He should write more, instead of a book every twenty years or so. His previous autobiography (also essential reading), “Patient” (Penguin 1996) was centred on the life threatening auto-immune disease that he contracted in 1992. “Romany and Tom” is indeed a portrait of Ben’s mum and dad, but much more than that, it has a wider focus; in Ben’s words, it is “about who we are, where we come from, and how we love and live with each other for a long time.” Clearly, these are the universal themes of literature and life. Happy families may well be all alike, (i.e. dull and not very inspiring as far as creativity and drama are concerned), and every unhappy family may be unhappy in its own way, but perversely, the idiosyncrasies of sadness are really the things which bring us together and connect us. The narrative takes us through the changing relationships and dynamics of Romany and Tom and Ben and his wider family. The years unfold, and with the wisdom of experience and personal insight, Ben unwraps the human frailties of his parents, and also himself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J Roberts on 12 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
At times this compelling story made me feel a bit intrusive. Its thoughtful and bracingly honest - I could have done without the description of his Dad's ablutions.

I've sung along in the car with Ben and Tracey on and off since about 1985, but know little else about them. Part of the reason I started going out with my wife in 1990 was because our record collections overlapped a bit around the LPs Eden and the Marine Girls.

Anyway, we finally saw Ben live for the first time (with Bernard Butler) at a lovely low key gig in Nottingham a few weeks ago. The music was great, his guitar and keyboard playing always lights up part of my brain, but there was more wistfulness to the songs than I expected.

So I took the book on holiday this summer to Skye. It's a tough story about his talented and successful parents, about their affair, their weaknesses, careers and about how they got old.

If you are a contemporary, dealing with children, ageing parents and the middle of your career, this book provides a chance to reflect on each age and how we end up being who we are.

It's a great story by a great man, and his singing wife who does understand.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dominique White on 21 April 2014
Format: Hardcover
Many readers will find passages of this memoir which resonate: be it the pain of foiled ambition, the pathos of unsung genius, the immutable stubbornness of certain personalities, the inability to deal with jealousy of spouse or son, the calm confidence of addiction or the incongruous task of looking after ageing parents. I have deep admiration for the author who swept me away 20 years ago with "Patient" (which I'd bought thinking would be something like "Touching the Void"!) and who has now grounded me with "Romany and Tom". Ben Watt is able to rise above circumstances, write without mincing words or emotions and express his gratitude, love and admiration for these two remarkable individuals who walked the same line. I am very grateful he shared this extraordinary story with me and look forward to his next book, hopefully in less than 20 years from now! I hardly know what to expect.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Matt on 5 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A beautifully written, elegiac, and profoundly moving book. It's about love , loss, parents and families, about generational differences and similarities and seeing yourself in your parents as you get older, whilst simultaneously feeling them slip from your grasp. The fundamental truth that we do not know the people our parents were before they were our parents , is wonderfully exposed and explored. I came to this as a fan of Ben and Tracey's music and a big fan of Tracey's book, but still was surprised, impressed and constantly moved by Ben's spare but perfectly weighted prose, as well as the raw emotion he sometimes expressed and was matched by my own as reader. By the end I felt I knew something of these two fascinating people I had never met. A gem of a book, rendered with love.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jonny Shortcut on 14 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I looked this book. Funny, thought provoking and so honest. You get Ben's story of growing up in late 60's, his mum and dad's lives and relationship and their, plus their joint story of the journey into old age. Highly recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jes on 7 May 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ben Watt is an excellent writer and somehow makes, what at times, is a sad tale into an absorbing read.
He achieved the same feat with Patient some years ago and once again has shown his natural talent as an author .
I enjoyed the book very much and would recommend it.
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