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An easy and at times enjoyable read, but don't expect much about Thatcher
on 5 June 2014
I like to end on a positive note, so I'll get the negatives out of the way first. The connection with Margaret Thatcher was, as others have commented, tenuous at best. It seemed to me to be nothing more than a marketing ploy to attract more attention and make this stand out from all the other memoirs that are mostly litter-ary rather than literary. Having said that the quotes from Thatcher that precede each chapter do provide some context and, with 30 years of hindsight, do also give a stark reminder of how much things have changed since she was in power. And, perhaps, how much they've stayed the same.
Many of the family characters were barely more than one-dimensional and to say this is supposed to be a memoir I would have liked to know more about them and perhaps had something of the adult writer's retrospective on them rather than just the simplistic boyhood view, which was often paper-thin.
And on that positive side, Barr opens a clear window onto those times and that place, with excellent descriptions and prose that occasionally verges on genius in its clarity and originality, even managing to make the mundane passages trip swiftly along. I found the book an easy, quick read (which I didn't expect) and on the whole enjoyable. I doubt I'll be seeking out any of his other work on the basis of this, but I didn't feel as though I'd wasted my time reading it.