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Bonkers: My Life in Laughs Hardcover – 10 Oct 2013
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Fabulous? Yes. Funny? Absolutely (Mail on Sunday)
Beautifully written and frequently hilarious (Guardian)
Delightfully funny... she writes with moving honesty (Hello!)
Her account of battling breast cancer is as honest as it is uplifting (Daily Mail)
'Hilarious and brilliant' (Kirsty Young BBC Radio 4)
Endearing and hilarious. If only all celebrity biographies were this funny (Telegraph)
About the Author
Jennifer Saunders is a comedian, writer and actress. She has won three BAFTAs, an International Emmy, a British Comedy Award, a Rose d'Or, two Writers' Guild Awards and a People's Choice Award. She first found widespread attention in the 1980s when she formed The Comic Strip after graduating from the Central School of Speech and Drama. With Dawn French, she wrote and starred in French & Saunders, the long-running hit sketch show. She won worldwide acclaim in the 1990s for writing Absolutely Fabulous, playing Edina Monsoon.
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‘Bonkers’ isn’t your typical biography, in the sense that there’s no real chronology to it. Saunders has eschewed the usual mould of taking us steadily through her life, instead opting for a mish-mash of stories, often going off on a tangent and without any clear sense of time or place. But somehow, it works. Possibly because you get the distinct impression that this is how Jennifer’s mind works on a daily basis; no linear lines here, more of a scribbly, happy mess which somehow seems to work out in the end.
Saunders is quick to acknowledge how lucky she is. Much of her life seems to have been played out against the old saying ‘right place at the right time’. From her first meeting with future partner Dawn French, to working on their TV show and her solo career in the form of ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, Saunders takes nothing for granted. She is fully aware of how fickle ‘celebrity’ is (a word, she assures us, which didn’t exist when she first started out) and how all the trappings of it can change a person, often for the worse.
Despite her ‘celebrity’ status however, Saunders is still an awkward, shy and self-conscious person most of the time, which is perhaps why I like her. She freely admits to hating red carpet events, interviews and meeting new people. She would much prefer to stay at home with her family, looking after the children and an ever increasing number of pets, vigorously sweeping the back garden and generally procrastinating about what to do next. Definitely a woman after my own heart.
Don’t be fooled though – there are hard times too. Saunders talks about the death of her beloved father, her mother’s illness after suffering from a stroke and her own, very private battle with breast cancer (not something purposefully kept secret, despite what may have been reported to the contrary – she just genuinely thought no one would be interested). But every one of these topics – especially her time as a cancer patient - is approached with a sense of silliness, warmth and honesty which is refreshing and just makes you like her all the more.
All in all, this is an enjoyable read. Saunders comes across as someone who you could really make a friend of - once you’d got past her shyness and introverted ways, obviously - and it’s easy to see how and why she’s been so successful in her career. Ultimately she’s just an ordinary person working in an extraordinary profession, but she’s a rare breed in that she's never forgotten that fact or let it go to her head. And that’s a very admirable trait indeed.
I saw Jennifer Saunders interviewed at the Southbank Centre on Tuesday and realised how uncool it is to be a superfan... See [...] for more info.
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