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143 of 154 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book by a wonderful man
I loved this book. I have been eagerly awaiting it ever since I read Moab is my Washpot which was wonderful, but left you wanting more. Well I still want more because this book only takes you up to 1987. Nevertheless it is a fantastic combination of funny stories, brutal honesty about himself, loving descriptions of the people he met along the way, a description of...
Published on 23 Sept. 2010 by LadyD

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enough already, Stephen
"If a thing can be said in ten words, I may be relied on to take a hundred," Fry tells us at the start of The Fry Chronicles. And boy does he live up to his word.

This is the actor-writer-comedian's second excursion into autobiography, dealing with the events of his roaring twenties. We are introduced to Cambridge University, Emma Thompson, Rowan Atkinson, Hugh...
Published on 4 May 2012 by Simon Bendle


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143 of 154 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book by a wonderful man, 23 Sept. 2010
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This review is from: The Fry Chronicles (Hardcover)
I loved this book. I have been eagerly awaiting it ever since I read Moab is my Washpot which was wonderful, but left you wanting more. Well I still want more because this book only takes you up to 1987. Nevertheless it is a fantastic combination of funny stories, brutal honesty about himself, loving descriptions of the people he met along the way, a description of university life that made me nostalgic for my own student days, an interesting account of the rise of alternative comedy, and the wonderful use of language for which is is so rightly admired. It is to his credit, and is a measure of the man, that there is barely a bad word uttered about anyone in this book unlike so many celebrity autobiographies.

In particular his descriptions of his relationship with, and deep love for, the dedicatee of this book - his partner and friend Hugh Laurie - are extremely moving and brought a tear to my eye.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does not disappoint, 8 Nov. 2010
This review is from: The Fry Chronicles (Hardcover)
Having read "Moab is my Washpot" several years ago, I had been awaiting the next volume of Fry's autobiography with huge anticipation and high expectations. I certainly wasn't disappointed.
This book does not bring Fry's story up to the present day - another volume is seemingly promised. Instead it shows us the formative years of Fry's career - actor, writer, comedian - beginning at Cambridge an continuing into his early stage and screen productions, leaving the story around the time of "Blackadder II".
Fry is typically honest and self-deprecating - often harshly so, but without ever falling into the trap of self-pity. His affection for his years at Cambridge is very apparent, as is his love and respect for many of those he has worked with - particularly Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, Ben Elton and Rowan Atkinson. Fry's feelings of inadequacy when compared to these other talents are particularly fasincating, though I don't doubt that they each felt something similar. There are also wonderful and hilarious anecdotes of the likes of Robbie Coltrane and Miriam Margolyes.
Fry wilfully admits that he will use ten words when one will do, but his prose are so elegant and his love of language so infectious, I doubt many readers will mind. This is certainly a more straight-forward narrative than I remember "Moab" being - "Moab" would often veer off into tangents and Stephen would give us his views on life, the universe and everything, and it is a shame that there isn't a bit more of that in this book. But this is a very minor quibble.
All in all, anyone who read "Moab" should certainly read this, and everyone else should probably read it too. A genuine and honest insight into the life and the mind of an always interesting, entertaining, and thoroughly likeable man.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing autobiography from a national treasure!, 8 Mar. 2013
I have a huge respect for this great national treasure and it was interesting to find out more about his education and career. I found it all to be very insightful about an acting/writing career and enjoyed hearing of the funny stories of his past.

Many famous and wonderful people are mentioned in this book, many of whom I recognise as being brilliant; Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie and Rowan Atkinson play a large part in this book, but also Douglas Adams (author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), Chris Barrie (who later starred in Red Dwarf) and Robert Lindsay, amongst others, are also mentioned.

The writing is what made me pick this book up in the first place. It is written in such as way that it feels as though Stephen Fry is speaking to you and, in fact, on several occasions he directly addresses the reader which makes you really connect with what you are reading. It was difficult to get into at first but I got into it after a few pages and just loved the intelligence that seeps out of this style of writing whilst still sounding real and even using some swear words. The ending shocked me and definitely suggests a follow-up which I am now really looking forward to reading.

I would give this 5 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to any lover of Stephen Fry and anyone who is interested in biographies/autobiographies because I promise you this is one of the best you'll read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enough already, Stephen, 4 May 2012
By 
Simon Bendle (Edinburgh, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Fry Chronicles (Audio CD)
"If a thing can be said in ten words, I may be relied on to take a hundred," Fry tells us at the start of The Fry Chronicles. And boy does he live up to his word.

This is the actor-writer-comedian's second excursion into autobiography, dealing with the events of his roaring twenties. We are introduced to Cambridge University, Emma Thompson, Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie; we go backstage on the set of Blackadder, stroll down Broadway, visit the BBC; we learn about the author's obsession with computers, his thing for credit cards, his love of classic cars. It's all done, as you would expect, with Fry's usual wit, charm, intelligence and honesty.

But for me, about six hours into this 12-hour audio-book, it all became a bit much. Moab is my Washpot, Fry's earlier memoir, covered his difficult childhood and adolescence; his thieving, his expulsions from schools, his attempted suicide, his time spent in prison - compelling stuff. Much as I admire Stephen Fry and am glad he eventually found happiness, the more straightforward story told here - of a gifted young man finding his way in the world, working hard, making friends, enjoying himself - is somewhat less gripping.

It's been interesting to hear about Fry's amazing good fortune and meet his gorgeous showbiz friends. But not that interesting. If a thing can be said in ten words, perhaps that's how many it should take.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Are we milking the franchise?, 6 Aug. 2011
This review is from: The Fry Chronicles (Hardcover)
I love Stephen Fry. I've read, watched or heard most of his considerable output over the years, mostly with unalloyed joy. And this book,too. But. Oh but. What is my gripe? Well, I've just finished reading it today, and I feel it's a little, well, slight. We end in 1987, pausing on a deep breath for the tribulations ahead that we know Stephen suffered, and it all feels a little too staged, and that the third tranche of this life story, when it comes, will be little more than another money making exercise, which is odd as Stephen spends an awful lot of time in this book apologising for the wealth he's already accrued. Let me explain it like this: this book is well written, with the expected Fryesque delight in the exuberance of language well used; the man knows how to tell an anecdote - boy does he; and we have some interesting reflections on the rise of the new wave of comedy that engulfed us in the early 1980s. All that is to the book's credit, no doubt. But in well over 400 pages we cover Stephen at university, where his entire world, quite disappointingly to me, centred around amateur drama, and the beginnings of Stephen's career, and I'm not sure that we learn a massive amount that's new about either. Oh sure, the pages fly by, which is always a good sign. There is much for the Fryfanatic (like myself) to smile and reflect on...but I wonder is there enough in here? In short, at this rate we'll need another two biographical submissions from Stephen to bring us up to date, and I wonder if that is really justified? Perhaps it is, and I'm quite wrong. No doubt I'll buy them too, if and when they are published, but I'm left with a sneeking suspicion that we're over-egging the pudding slightly, and I just feel a teeny bit exploited, and taken for granted. In short, it's an enjoyable romp, but I think more ground could be covered and more could be revealed, in the same number of pages. But that would necessitate firm editing and the publishers accepting that perhaps four or five autobiographies, however lucrative for them and the author, might be a little excessive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and revealing, 21 Dec. 2012
By 
Sally Walker (Eastbourne, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fry Chronicles (Paperback)
The Fry Chronicles is Fry's autobiographical account of ten years of his life from age twenty. Ten years in which he studied at Queen's College, Cambridge or rather acted in countless plays and then branched off into comedy particularly after his meeting of Hugh Laurie. It gives an account of his early career and how this swiftly developed.

I have read this book shortly after reading Fry's autobiography of his first twenty years:Moab Is My Washpot. That was a 5+ star read, by comparison this I rate as meriting 4 stars. If I had not read Maob I would have given The Chronicles 5 stars.

Why the difference and diminution? Well, Maob, the best autobiography I have read, contains by quick turn side splitting humour and an onion peeling baring of Fry's inner workings, feelings and motivations. I thought it logical to assume that The Chronicles would be more of the same and this was what I was expecting.

Whilst it is true to say that there are many pages that do carry on this vein, there are also many others that simply recount Fry's early career in terms of how it all began, how he obtained work, what he worked on and who he worked with, etc. Of course this is interesting and indeed necessary because the autobiography has to tell us about how he spent these pivotal ten years of his life, but for me, what set Maob apart was Fry's brave, candid lifting off of his mask and assumed persona to reveal his true self. I found this absolutely fascinating and I admire and appreciate Fry's willingness to do this. It is simply that this book contains less of that.

I also found this book to be less funny.

Having said all of this, there is no question that this is anything but a highly engaging, entertaining, revealing, and at times, amusing read. (Of interest too is as account of how comedy developed in England in the 1980s.) There is much that is laid bare and consequently we do learn an awful lot more about Fry and I would not wish to deter anyone from reading his chronicles.

If you have not read Maob I strongly suggest that you read that first.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing, but too light, 9 Nov. 2011
This review is from: The Fry Chronicles (Hardcover)
Being a casual fan of Fry's, I picked up the book hoping for some light enjoyable reading and a greater insight into his enigmatic character. The book certainly delivered in the first regard, but on the second I am not so sure. He too often holds back, out of embarrassment and fear of betraying his friends, or his own moral code of strict humility.

For example, Fry goes into great detail (several pages at least) of his former love of tobacco, and pipes in particular- explaining the sensations of tobacco euphoria, how pipes should be properly lit, how he was inspired by his literary heroes to take to smoking, how it seemed to him a sign of sophistication, masculinity etc

And then he just breezes past his decade-spanning relationship with some guy called Kim, who, after reading the book cover to cover, I have discovered was a blond fellow and jolly good at chess. Oh and I think he had an expensive stereo or something. In a couple of paragraphs this huge section of Fry's life is quickly tidied away with seemingly no emotion. Eventually Kim tires of Stephen's self imposed abstinence (again, hardly explained) and starts seeing other men, while still living with Steven. Fry offers no comment on this. I want to know about this situation please! Tell me more! But no, Stephen performs the literary equivalent of coughing nervously and then goes on to talk about the mac he bought that one time.

I suppose it's all part of his appeal, that he doesn't bitch or tattle, or show any real passion. Stiff upper lip and all that, but still ... it would have been nice to see more of the man and less of the gentleman.

Apologies feature heavily. He apologises for being so hard on himself, or apologises for talking about his fame and wealth, or apologises for harking on about his tough childhood. Don't apologise Stephen, if you didn't want to print it, then you shouldn't have. You're not having a casual conversation with us, you're consciously committing words to ink. The first few apologies are kind of sweet and endearing, but by the end of it they rang a little of insincerity. At least to me.

On the whole though, I did enjoy the book. It provides a cozy account of Oxbridge life in the 70's and the theatre and television industry of the 80's, with plenty of Fryian charm and amusing anecdotes. The chief problem is that Fry is too concerned with other people's opinion of himself to really commit to any sustained self examination - other than 'oh aren't I beastly, I shouldn't complain but I do'. And truly personal stories are off limits to strangers, like us. It's a characteristic that makes for a good person, but not a great autobiographer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many names I'd never heard of, 26 Sept. 2011
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This review is from: The Fry Chronicles (Hardcover)
On the whole I found this enjoyable and easy to read, particularly the section on student life in Cambridge and work with the Footlights.

HOWEVER... Fry describes the development of his career in detail, and his book is sprinkled with the names of actors, writers, plays and TV programmes. Since I myself did not live in the UK during the eighties, many of these names mean very little to me. No doubt it would all be very fascinating for a reader who had some memory or knowledge of the personalities involved, but not for me. (I did find his descriptions interesting when I actually knew who or what he was talking about, for instance "Blackadder".)

Fry was successful more or less right from the moment he left university, and quickly became extremely wealthy. He used his money in what he himself admits was a trivial way, spending it on expensive houses, cars, clubs, and the latest technology. He spends a great deal of time - too much - explaining how in spite of his success and wealth, he is plagued by a sense of failure, of being a fraud, of not really belonging in the worldly circles in which he appears to move with such ease. No doubt this is perfectly sincere, no doubt it is also worth saying, but I got bored long before he'd finished saying it.

The Kindle formatting is OK on the whole, but it isn't able to cope with a speech from one of his plays and the text of a magazine article. They are not distinguished visually from the surrounding text, which particularly in the case of the speech is confusing, as it takes the reader a minute to realise that this is not actually Fry speaking. Kindle still needs to refine its formatting.

I would give this 3½ stars. Since I have to choose between rounding up and rounding down, I prefer to round down. It doesn't reach 4, as far as I'm concerned.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `I really must stop saying sorry; it doesn't make things any better or worse.', 27 April 2011
By 
Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Fry Chronicles (Hardcover)
This is the second volume of Stephen Fry's autobiography, covering the eight years immediately after the first volume (entitled `Moab is my Washpot'). I have not yet read the first volume, which covers Stephen Fry's childhood and teenage years, and am keen to do so as soon as I can.

Stephen Fry writes this book from a position of relative fame: many of us who have followed British comedy will know at least some of his work from the 1980s, while others may only know his more recent work. But who is the man behind the public figure?

Stephen Fry arrived at Cambridge while still on probation from credit card fraud. He quickly discovers that he can sail through examinations without too much effort, befriends other bright young people such as Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson, and finds that extra-curricular activities are even more interesting than Shakespearean texts. It seems clear that mostly this was happy period in Stephen Fry's life and the way in which he writes of it is a delight to read. It's almost like listening to him speak.

But, if publicly all seems to be going well, privately: ` I had lived twenty years convinced that my body was the enemy and that all I had going for me was my brain, my quickness of tongue and my blithe facility with language, attributes that can cause people to be as much disliked as admired.'

This questioning of self, combined with a dislike of his appearance and body made it difficult for Stephen Fry to be comfortable. There was a gap between the confident public persona he projected and how he felt:
`The sense of failure, the fear of eternal unhappiness, the insecurity, misery, self-disgust and the awful awareness of underachievement... Are you not prey to all of those things also? I do hope so. I would feel the most conspicuous oddity otherwise.'

It's a wonderful mixture of reminiscence about the 1980s with a sense of foreboding about what the future holds. Stephen Fry is disarmingly honest about his self-doubt, his neediness, his addictions and his drive for fame. If there is a sin in Stephen Fry's world, it would seem to be passive incuriosity:
`The only reason people do not know much is because they do not care to know.'

And for those of us who are not incurious, this book provides a fascinating insight into a fascinating man. I'm looking forward to the next instalment.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fireside Chat, 3 Feb. 2011
By 
W. Barber "Willbert" (Bristol UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Fry Chronicles (Hardcover)
Stephen Fry: The Fry Chronicles
A rambling friendly sort of book; a little like being nuzzled by an eager dog under the table! I enjoyed the background insight into the process of becoming a star, and the pressure to write/perform to timescales and deadlines. A lot of big unusual words that may `obfuscate' a little though that is to be expected. Remarkable insight and empathy into plight of personal and various other issues, sometimes inevitably a little naval-gazing, though what do you expect from a book by Mr Fry, about himself? At times a little shocking too, which is also to be expected from someone who does not shy away from the odd frank and choice word/description, disliking euphemisms, and enjoying the opposite (a word for which I have forgotten though he would no doubt remember).
The context of Cambridge, and all the other performers mentioned adds a lot of interest and I feel perhaps adds spine to a book that has little real direction.
This is his intention no doubt. A quiet interesting chatty, pipe sucking sort of style of writing with, I imagine, little editing. [who would happily choose to edit a person like this?].
I enjoyed its rich language and interesting view of a world seldom seen by us `normals' despite not quite knowing where I had been at the end of it all. A style not often used by `traditional' writers, but perhaps no worse for that. The ending is abrupt, just stopping when no more need be said, and seems contentious as Fry no doubt sometimes enjoyis. Obviously also leaving a telling silence for another future ramble to fill.
[check the page before 'car' chapter. Beautifully put]
[also part about Mask becoming the face earlier on 'Chess....' chapter, a few pages on nicely put too]
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