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Untold Stories Paperback – 7 Sep 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (7 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571228313
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571228317
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 4.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 123,175 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.

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Review

'Alan Bennett, with his combination of pitiless observation and gentle understatement, is perhaps the best-loved of English writers alive today.' -- Sunday Telegraph, 25th September 2005

'He can find more drama in a cup of Darjeeling than others could in a household of nymphomaniacs.' -- Rosemary Goring, Glasgow Herald, 8th October 2005

'I have never read a book of this length where I have turned the last page with such regret.' -- John Carey, Sunday Times, 2nd October 2005

'This thick book is so full of good things they could sell it for twice the price.' -- Daily Telegraph, 1st October 2005

'that's the Christmas present shopping sorted . . .' -- Imogen Stubbs, Daily Telegraph, 1st October 2005 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

Untold Stories is the wonderful sequel to Alan Bennett's classic Writing Home.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 April 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm not going to presume to comment at length on Alan Bennett's writing. "Untold Stories" is by turns extremely funny, deeply moving, courageous, uplifting, brilliantly observed, and a treasure trove of expert knowledge lightly told. It covers an astonishingly wide range of subject matter from the seemingly "trivial" (although of course in the hands of a writer like Bennett, trivial details can reveal a whole world), to the "serious" business of politics, culture, society and history. I have rated it four stars because at nearly 700 pages it is extremely long, so there were a few passages here and there that I could have done without (e.g. gardening never being a particular interest of mine). But for every entry on gardening there are a dozen pieces on films, theatre, architecture, art and so on that enthralled me, so I have no real right to complain. This is an extraordinary book and one that repays the effort of reading it a hundred times over. Finally, I'd like to say that I am astonished by the reviewer below who accuses the author of being a snob: if nothing else, Bennett's kindness and humanity shines through every page of "Untold Stories" as plain as day.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Eugene Onegin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
If you know Alan Bennett's work through his plays or have enjoyed the memorable collection Writing Home in the 1990's, you might wonder what this current anthology has in store. Well the short answer is that it is the same only different. The customary Bennett humanity, acute observation, keen intelligence and wry humour are much in evidence in the diaries from 1996-2004 included here, and in several of the shorter book reviews and essays. However, it has to be said that this volume like the second set of Talking Heads takes on a much darker hue focussing on issues that the writer has only alluded to before. The first long piece is a detailed account of the mental illness suffered by his mother and aunt and pulls no punches in its depictions of the institutions they attended or the impact this had on the wider family and how their conditions indirectly led to the discovery of a family secret. Similarly, recent years have seen A.B becoming more relaxed about his sexuality and this comes over in the article Written on the Body and contented accounts of domestic bliss with partner Rupert. Then there is an increasing anger in his comments on social and political matters especially his bitter denunciation of the Iraq war. Finally there is his perceptive account of facing a life threatening battle with cancer where the title is instructive of his attitude- An Average Rock Bun. Yet even as the content becomes more hard-edged, the quality of the prose remains as pleasing as ever: Bennett remains the master of the telling phrase, his deployment of vocabulary always apposite. Consequently, we are offered a rounded portrait of this famously secretive man far more illuminating than Alexander Game's empty biography of a few years ago.Read more ›
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141 of 149 people found the following review helpful By Book Fan on 17 Oct. 2005
Format: Hardcover
From the very second I began reading this book I knew I was about to embark on an incredible journey through the life of one of our greatest story-tellers. Alan Bennett certainly did not disappoint me. This is a moving, heart warming and humorous selection of his life. The fact the he believed he would not live to see the book published gives it a sense of humanity and realism that is evident throughout. A book not to be missed.
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78 of 83 people found the following review helpful By churrasco on 26 Nov. 2005
Format: Hardcover
Mr Bennett writes his life with the unwavering honesty of a dying man (he thought he was, but fortunately for all of us he's still around). All his characters are here as real people, and the line between the sad and the funny is, as ever, blurred. I had to stop reading it on the bus or in bed due to laughing so much (well, you can't, can you - folk would think you'd had it) and I'm sending it to all my favourite people this year. Thank you, Mr Bennett, for a cracking 2006 annual!
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69 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Budge Burgess on 10 Nov. 2005
Format: Hardcover
'Untold Stories' is a sort of autobiography by reflection, through reflection. Bennett talks you through his experience of family life and social life, delivering short story anecdotes of his parents and relatives, painting elusive little portraits of the people in his life and his changing understanding of their roles and import.
Alan Bennett is a master both of language and of observation. He can make telling statements about individuals in a few words, can deliver incisive insights into the human condition with a twist of a phrase. He's a writer, but you are destined to hear him read his words to you - that unmistakable voice echoes from the pages, massaging your mind into receptivity. You can't read Bennett - or listen to an audiobook or watch his television productions - without sinking into actively relaxed mode. He transports you to another world and another time, utterly captivating you.
This is masterly writing, completely un-put-downable. It's a lesson in both writing and in understanding your own family. It leaves you wanting to talk to your relatives, to enquire into their experiences, learn their history … or it will leave you wishing you'd asked your mother more, or listened to your aunt, or shown your uncle greater respect. Fascinating, absorbing, energising!
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