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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing - Bennett in top form
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...
Published on 6 Nov 2009 by I. Sondel

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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing
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...
Published on 26 Jun 2010 by Old Surbitonian


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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing, 26 Jun 2010
This review is from: A Life Like Other People's (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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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing - Bennett in top form, 6 Nov 2009
By 
I. Sondel "I. Sondel - lover of the arts" (Tallahassee, FL United States) - See all my reviews
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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular story telling at its best, 13 Dec 2010
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Life Like Other People's (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Typical Yorkshire Bennett, 1 Feb 2010
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This is only the second book I have read of Alan Bennett. Having just seen his new play "The Habit of Art" which was very funny, giving you a special insight into the lives of the characters & the era it was set in I felt driven to experience his other works. This book tells the story of his family life warts & all. It is very honest even about his own failings & I found it a very moving book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life Like Other Peoples, And Well Worth Recording, 16 Dec 2009
By 
Simon Savidge Reads "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life Like Other People's, 20 Aug 2011
By 
N. A. Spencer - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Life Like Other People's (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. There is the obvious decline in health that occurs in people as they age and the author writes about this in a passionate and thoughtful way as he shares with the reader incidents that may be thought of as private, yet they still add to the overall mood of the book. I really enjoyed this book and the author's candid portrayal of his familial story through joy and sadness and wholeheartedly recommend it.
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A man of the people, 3 Oct 2009
By 
Peter I. Robbins "Russkie" (near Baldock, North Hertfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
Bennett at his best - he is the nearest we have to Chekhov.
His powers of observation of the most ordinary things and people are accurate - but he is never boring. He writes 'from life'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and Interesting, 13 Aug 2013
By 
W. Tegner "Bill" (Cheshire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Life Like Other People's (Paperback)
I enjoyed a television programme with Alan Bennett, in his flat, scholarly vowels, talking about his youth, and another about his army days. At first I thought that this book might be a bit dry in comparison, but it is not. Bennett writes very well, holding your attention with his interesting detail and a touch of humour. But it is not an entirely light book: indeed it is introspective and soulful on occasion.

There were various bits with which I could identify. For example how the disadvantages of being "shy" are sometimes thought to be offset by perceived virtues. And the propensity of bored, elderly people to try to fill their days by doing things earlier and earlier.

My family background is as fractured and complex as Bennett's, but I doubt if a published autobiography would get many readers. But then I'm not Alan Bennett, and I don't write anywhere near as well as he does. I read this book quickly, which was not difficult because it is so good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Typical Bennett Humour And Some Sad Bits, 11 Feb 2013
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This review is from: A Life Like Other People's (Paperback)
If you like Alan Bennett you will like this. It's a bit of a contradiction in terms but I have to say the book is humorously sad. If anyone has experience of elderly relatives going through their second childhood they will know the trials and tribulations that Bennett went through with his mother and relate them to their own experiences. I would like to think that hopefully times have changed in looking after our elderly - but have they?
Both his parents maintained their dignity despite the obvious mental problems encountered by his mother. As far as his father was concerned, till death do us part meant exactly that.
A typical view of Alan Bennett's world by Alan Bennett and one that I couldn't help thinking was part of my world too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life like other peoples, 7 May 2011
This review is from: A Life Like Other People's (Paperback)
Fabulous book, nice comfortable read. Lots of reminders of things from childhood and things like family secrets that obviously big at the time but maybe now would be less 'sensational'. Alan Bennett has a lovely way with words.
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A Life Like Other People's by Alan Bennett (Paperback - 29 April 2010)
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