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Customer Review

28 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing... a book that does not want to be an autobiography, 19 Jan. 2009
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This review is from: Dear Fatty (Hardcover)
I really like Dawn French and have been a fan of her for many years as a comedienne and actress. So it disappoints me to say that this book is very disappointing.

I think the core problem is illustrated in a passage where Dawn talks about her dislike of the cult of celebrity; she doesn't understand it, and doesn't want the attention of a celebrity. Fair enough... but what's an autobiography? It is, in its very essence, a big symbol of celebrity: a voyeuristic look into someone's life we only know through them being famous.

So the autobiography concept is completely undermined by French, and so she instead decides to tell her story in the form of letters to friends and family, both alive and deceased.

The trouble is French doesn't really talk about herself a lot. It's a lot of reminiscing about times in her past which quite frankly on the whole isn't very interesting. It's like sitting in a cinema listening to someone talking... like overhearing a conversation. And while memories are cherished by the person in question, they don't necessarily make good reading. If I talked about my late grandmother's love of quiz shows it means a lot to my family, but would you be interested to read about it?

With this flawed concept in place, it seems at times hard for French to maintain; she's constantly posing questions such as "Do you remember?" to try and keep the letter format intact, but only serving to reinforce the fact that we are overhearing a conversation.

Probably the biggest problem is that French doesn't really talk about much of substance. With autobiographies we want the nitty gritty of an event, and behind-the-scenes insight. And while some anecdotes are amusing, we sadly don't get many substantial stories. She talks about something her husband did, but does not talk about what it was or what happened in response. I think she alludes to him having an affair, but I don't know because she just avoids it - and this is exactly the time an autobiography should give great insight into a key event in someone's life.

There is only one story of substance, and that's the death of her father. But strangely this is marred by being stopped mid-story by a collection of photos of French japing around on set.

The book carries on in this vein, then in the latter half of the book just devolves into an Oscar acceptance speech with tediously gushing, over the top praise for family, friends and colleagues.

I think French is a kind, warm-hearted person and that comes across in this book. She is a genuinely lovely lady with a passion for her family and friends. For that I cannot criticise her.

But as a book with an RRP of £19, it really doesn't cut it.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Jun 2009 10:20:08 BDT
T says:
Excellent review.

Posted on 19 Jul 2009 13:36:11 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 Jul 2009 13:37:03 BDT
I am about to buy this book. I have an audio one and it is fascinating, but I want to sit down and take it all in instead of standing, or moving around the Ipod, and of course the 'phone ringing!

Posted on 3 Sep 2009 12:49:26 BDT
dolly parton says:
great review. I couldn't agree with you more .
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