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Clever Girl: Growing Up in the 1950s Paperback – 13 Sep 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (13 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843545454
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843545453
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A wonderful book, by turns heartbreaking and deliriously funny.' -- Diana Melly, Sunday Times

'Almost every page contains an observation so baldly funny that you will wish to commit it to memory.' -- Simon Garfield, Observer

'An enchantingly eccentric and entertaining book.' -- Tom Rosenthal, Daily Mail

'Deft and humorous... [Brian Thompson has] an Alan Bennett-like ear for the incongruous.'
-- Joan Bakewell, Guardian

About the Author

Brian Thompson was born in Lambeth, London in 1935. After vigorous rescue remedies applied by two grammar schools, he read English at Cambridge. Since 1973 he has written for a living as a radio and television playwright and documentary film maker. His first volume of memoir, Keeping Mum, was published by Atlantic in 2006. He is also the author of several acclaimed biographies including A Monkey Among Crocodiles and The Nightmare of a Victorian Bestseller. He lives in Oxford.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Taking up from where he left off in 'Keeping Mum', Brian Thompson recalls his days as a grammar school boy, national serviceman, and then as a Cambridge undergraduate in the 1950's. Anecdotes and atmosphere are spot on, but it is characterisation interspersed with dialogue that sets Thompson (no relation of this reviewer!) apart. The desire to find a different life, away from the unhappiness endured at home, comes in the form of 'S', the 'Clever Girl' of the title. Thompson's literary style is sophisticated but lightly worn, with great humour and fairness to the protagonists (well, mostly!), and is just one huge pleasure from beginning to end.
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Format: Paperback
I found this follow on readable, but would not have bought it except for the fact that I had read KEEPNG MUM. I was disappointed because I feel that the reader does not get to know the 'clever girl' ( his wife ) well enough to warrent the title, it is still however a decent read.
FORTIES FAN
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Format: Paperback
Having read Brian Thompson’s earlier book Keeping Mum which described his childhood – very far from ordinary – I thought I’d try the next episode in his series of autobiographies. The title is somewhat misleading since we don’t find out very much about the girl called ‘S’ who is obviously the girl of the title. Instead, we are given more of his own life, throughout which he gets a scholarship to attend Cambridge University. He does well, but I was disappointed in the level of information we are given about his studies. He is curiously reticent about this side of his life and one feels he rather plays down his success.

In common with many young men of that time he was enrolled almost as a matter of course in the Army and spent a year or two in Africa, where he met Idi Amin, as slippery a customer then as his later exploits might predict. We get a little about Thompson’s social life, but it doesn’t quite feel like the real thing. He has edited out anything too alarming, one feels.

This is an okay read, without being truly informative. It is pleasant, sometimes quite amusing, but doesn’t really come up with the goods. It feels careful, unsurprising and a bit – so what?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Strangely , having enjoyed Thompsons earlier 'Keeping Mum' I didn't fully engage with this book . I found the recollections of grammer school , National Service , and life as an undergraduate interesting but as the book moved along I found myself with diminishing sympathy for the author . By the end of the book it became obvious that he had become the 'over educated prat' that his father had predicted . Like others I additionally felt the book was mistitled . We never really get to know 'S' , the 'Clever Girl ' of the title anymore than we ever really learn much about Thompson's earlier girlfriend Figgie . Perhaps when he wrote this book Thompson had already forgotten much that he once knew and felt about them . You do wonder , however , especially as the book concludes with 'S' as Thompsons eagerly anticipated wife .

Thompson writes well , but then you would expect someone who spent three years reading English at Cambridge to be able to string the odd word together , wouldn't you ? This is a book I have no doubt many people will thoroughly enjoy . It is good , my problem is that I ended up not liking the main character , our author . As for the 'Clever Girl ' I think Thompsons father was probably correct when he voiced the opinion that 'S' was too good for his son . Unfortunately she is a ghost presence throughout the books pages , the anonymous face of the cover illustration.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thompson covers an area of recent history which had been neglected.....he brings the era to life in a frank and with an intelligent approach. His writing to style is sharp and fun to read.
I will follow this writer.....better than fiction.
His description of National Service should be required reading for Future NS suggestions !!
The title is subtle . Maybe it might better served with some adjustment in that area.
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