The Lady in the Van (BBC Audio) Audio CD – Audiobook, 4 Jun 2009
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Life imitates art in The Lady in the Van, the story of the itinerant Miss Shepherd, who lived in a van in Alan Bennett's driveway from the early1970s until her death in 1989. It is doubtful that Bennett could have made up the eccentric Miss Shepherd if he tried, but his poignant, funny but unsentimental account of their strange relationship is akin to his best fictional screen writing.
Bennett concedes that "One seldom was able to do her a good turn without some thoughts of strangulation", but as the plastic bags build up, the years pass by and Miss Shepherd moves into Bennett's driveway, a relationship is established which defines a certain moment in late 20th-century London life which has probably gone forever. The dissenting, liberal, middle-class world of Bennett and his peers comes into hilarious but also telling collision with the world of Miss Shepherd: "there was a gap between our social position and our social obligations. It was in this gap that Miss Shepherd (in her van) was able to live".
Bennett recounts Miss Shepherd's bizarre escapades in his inimitable style, from her letter to the Argentinean Embassy at the height of the Falklands War, to her attempts to stand for Parliament and wangle an electric wheelchair out of the Social Services. Beautifully observed, The Lady in the Van is as notable for Bennett's attempts to uncover the enigmatic history of Miss Shepherd, as it is for its amusing account of her eccentric escapades. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
"...a wonderfully bittersweet comic diary of the years in which a lethally dotty and very smelly old bat parked her unroadworthy vehicle in Bennett's Camden garden, thereby providing him with a roughly equal amount of good journalistic copy and guilty landlordly irritation." Sheridan Morley, Spectator" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I would say that the film and the book complement each other and that there’s no reason not to treat yourself to both! My one gripe with the book is that for its size it is a VERY expensive read per page – time your purchase for when it’s on offer.
This is a remarkable story, and its one of the funniest yet moving pieces of writing that I have ever read. Bennett is a marvellous observer of people and his humanity shines through. Miss Shephard's living conditions were frankly disgusting (just think of the smell) and this would be enough to put most people off having any contact with her at all.
Bennett here has written one of the finest works of moving and poignant non-fiction I know of.
I could go on forever about his writing absolutely fantastic her passing away and the story around it was very poignant
As the book was created from notes he had made relating to Miss Shepherd in his diary over a number of years, there is not one story running through this book. What emerges, however, is an honest and touching but never sentimental story of a enigmatic character - a real one-of-a-kind.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sorry, I found this book really quite boring and disjointed. I got through about half of it but then gave up. I did return to it, but it just didn't really get any better. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Mrs. A. M. Kay
Wonderful story. Read in a day and still gave lots to think about. Kindle version fine; would have liked to see the film but always enjoy reading the book first so plenty of time... Read morePublished 3 days ago by pamela1965
This is not a novel. I bought what turned out to be a booklet with the expectation that since it was good enough to be turned into a film, it was worth a read. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Nan
Thoroughly enjoyable, with Alan Bennett's witty humour. It did not appeal to me at all but watched the film on a long haul flight so reading the book was a follow on.Published 6 days ago by LizC
Nice read. Amusing in many ways but lovely to read that the lady had a talent but liked to be secretive - I have an aunt in Yorkshire just like her. L o l recommendPublished 10 days ago by brenda bell