Customer Review

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading, tedious, self-serving and irritating, 4 April 2014
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This review is from: An Education (Paperback)
When I begin a book, I begin a journey with the writer, entrusting my time and imagination into their world and where their prose leads me. I like to engross myself in the story and normally take huge comfort and enjoyment in the adventure and its potential. Thankfully it only took me only a few hours over a couple of days to read An Education because it was akin to having an unwanted house guest that I couldn't wait to see the back of. Barber's irritating voice is the only one throughout the book and I couldn't wait for her to shut up and be gone.

I've seen the film An Education and really enjoyed it so I bought this book on foot of that. Unfortunately the entire film's content is only covered fleetingly in Chapter 2 of this book and I think her affair with an older man is probably the only exciting thing ever to have happened Barber in her self-serving and egotistical life. The remaining chapters are made up of anodyne and tedious recollections of a really rather nasty woman.

Her treatment of her parents is vitriolic and scathing, she sneers at her father and his Northern accent and his frugal ways and ridicules her mother for having ugly teeth and delusions of grandeur and her nastiness is relentless and wholly gratuitous throughout the entirety of the book. She views her seedy affair with a married man as wholly their fault when in fact it is quite clear that Barber would have known her own mind from a tender age, apportioning the blame is disingenuous and transparent.

Barber doesn't really seem to care about anyone except Barber. I did think there was a glimpse of a normal, empathetic human being in the chapter pertaining to the illness and death of her husband but this was merely a chink of light, the remainder of the book prattled on ad nauseum about how beautiful and intelligent she is/was. She doesn't really mention her children at all and her "anecdotes" aren't really that as she is incapable of viewing any situation outside her own consciousness.

The writing style is fine but the content is irritating and boring. I very rarely dump a book but this is only fit for the bin.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 May 2014 06:37:42 BDT
Hargreaves says:
Bravo on your honest review and being one of the few people who don't toe-kiss Barber. I agree with your assessment of her appalling pages on her parents and her mean attitude that covers everything like spilled ink. The only positive review I've ever read of hers is the one she did for the film on this book "An Education." Not a jot of nastiness but then why would there be. It's a film about her and lucrative as well. I also notice that her books have photos of her in her youth including her recent A Curious Career. I find that also self-serving and delusionary or money grubbing by the her and the publisher. Why not a photo of her as she is now. Or wouldn't that sell books?

Thanks again for renewing my faith in honest readers.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 May 2014 13:36:10 BDT
Two Cities says:
Dear Hargreaves, I couldn't agree with you more. I, too, had seen "An Education" the film but didn't immediately connect it to Ms. Barber. I should have known. The movie is well done but the events are not unusual and the story takes no real chances. I have read Ms. Barber's review of Dirk Bogarde's letters Ever, Dirk and was appalled at her vitriol and unkindness in it. I think she also missed the boat on who or what Dirk Bogarde is as an artist and autobiographer. She never seems to penetrate the surface of things so one is left with only a particle of reality and her voice--nothing of what the person she's writing about truly comes through--only her voice and by default the negativity she brings to the review. Clearly she considers herself more important than the subject or subjects she is writing about. Bogarde had lived a very full and rich life and she did not once open the door to that or for the reader. If her life were half as interesting as Bogarde's she might be able to shine a much fuller light on that of others. I would not recommend her work on the strength of this review alone to anyone who understands that life is richer and deeper than only one's own soul. Think of all she has missed by elevating herself above all others.
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