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4.5 out of 5 stars
The Laying On Of Hands
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 28 September 2001
This is Alan Bennett at his delightful, humorous and poignant best. The story never ceases to fascinate in its convoluted structure, and Bennett's reading of his own work is, as ever, a joy. There are few writers who manage at the same time to be intellectually satisfying, funny, and yet moving, but Bennett is one of them. Never was Keats' famous line 'A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,' more applicable to a work of literature. It cannot be too highly recommended!
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 12 March 2002
Alan Bennett's latest is a typically engaging, character based story. The opening drama is set at a memorial service for a young masseur. The congregation being liberally sprinkled with minor and not so minor celebrities - all of whom have had some encounters with the young man, many being of a sexual nature.
Bennetts reading gives voice to these characters including the vicar, though it is a far cry from his original vicar in Beyond the Fringe. The Laying on of Hands is a superb analysis of the shadows or truth that many have in their lives and their reactions when these secretive elements look likely to be uncovered in an all too public forum. The shadow of AIDS hangs over this piece almost as a threat of the result of promiscuity, though the results are anything but.
Highly recommended.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 30 June 2003
this must be the funniest thing i have ever listened to, it is side splittingly hilarious and the most observant and accurate description of all manner of people, all of whom we recognise somewhere in our lives. I have listened to it countless times, and it is a staple painting, gardening and odd job friend. Just watch you don't drop your brush or fall off the ladder.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I first saw "The Laying On Of Hands" not on Amazon but in the spiritual surroundings of the bookshop beneath St Martin in the Fields. Father Joliffe, the priest at the heart of this little book, would have been quietly amused.
Like Bennett's previous miniature, "The Clothes They Stood Up In", these hundred or so small pages are full of wit and artless aperçus - "He was the kind of youth Modigliani painted and for a moment Geoffrey wondered if he was attractive, but decided he was just young."
Like many of the "Talking Heads", the story has inevitability as well as suspense and is packed with wry commentary on the state of the nation, and in particular the establishment and the Established Church.
There is the usual evidence of recyclage - the very different vicar in "Bed Amongst the Lentils" is also called Geoffrey, and Hopkins and an iconic ear-ring [ much more significant in 1978 !] first appeared in "Me, I'm afraid of Viriginia Woolf".
Essential reading for Alan Bennett's many fans, and worth an hour of anyone's time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I first heard this book read by the author on 'A Book at Bedtime'; sleep not coming any easier afterwards in the light of its telling. The masterful manner of the story's unfolding, so wonderfully gauged in both pace and delivery, was a joy to behold. The simplicity of the storyline, a belated memorial service for a young man, Clive, cruelly struck down whilst abroad by some ill-defined malaise, is most intricately woven together with an assortment of characters who had meandered in and out of this young man's life.
Each is in the church for their own reason, the initially unspoken common denominator being the young man's extra-curricular activities of, shall we say, a carnal nature, in which most of those present had joyfully participated.
The story unfolds through a series of testimonies to the young man's character. He was known to them all, it would seem, in a variety of different ways.
The darker side of this story incorporates our fears of coming in contact with the unknown elements of the familiar, or at least with the unexpected and how we might come to terms with it. Had Clive succumbed to Aids or had his death come about from a more socially acceptable direction is a lynch-pin of this story.
Throughout the Reverend Jolliffe's thwarted attempts to conduct a simple service we are treated to a succession of Bennett's minutely observed characterisations, all of whom reflect the frailties, misunderstandings, perceptions and prejudices inherent in all of us when faced with the possible consequences of our own oft ill-judged actions;all of this tempered by subtle confusions.
Once the Pandorian box of human raison - d'etre had been opened, there was no closing it until the whole issue had been teased out to the satisfaction, if not the dire relief, of those present.
Archdeacon Treacher, the detached observer, himself not a practitioner of ready forgiveness, either to errant fellow clerics or fallen flocks, finds the whole business an embarrassingly self-indulgent episode. His is not to reason why, but merely to observe, record and report - retribution comes later, the Lord not having much of a say in the matter... To misquote GM Hopkins, "God is in His heaven and all is nearly right with the world." Another Hopkins, Greg that is, is the unassuming saviour in this story.
Anyone care for a small Amontillado before retiring?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 25 September 2006
I'd endorse everything everyone else has said here, though I didn't find it side-splittingly funny -- more gentle smiles at Bennett's observation, so beautifully crafted into words. It's certainly worth buying. You might like to note, though, that the double CD contains just the one story (I thought it would be a collection of short stories), which does perhaps go on just a bit too long. Excellent for a long car journey.
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on 3 November 2014
My favourite of Alan Bennett's short stories, this is extremely light-hearted on the surface- there are several laugh-out-loud hilarious social observations- but there is thoughtful side to the story, and it's extremely well crafted.
The story is seen partly through the eyes of a priest who is…. no wait, I won't spoilt it for you! Read it for yourself, enjoy the wry humour and the unexpected twists and turns of the clever plot. It's absolutely cracking!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2010
Yet again Mr Bennett does not disappoint he keeps your attention through out, I well recommended it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2009
an absorbibng and comic story, well read and a good companion whilst I was gardening!
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on 8 April 2015
A slow build up with a number characters gradually introduced. Alan Bennett's whimsical style shines through and you find yourself smiling at the elegant prose. A super story that gives the reader some wicked insights to the secrets that people carry...or does it? You judge but l really enjoyed the story.
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