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The Lady in the Van (BBC Audio) Audio CD – Audiobook, 4 Jun 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 1,553 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 2 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Physical Audio (4 Jun. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408426390
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408426395
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1 x 14.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,553 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 503,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

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.

Review

"...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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very short read amounting to 100 pages of relatively large print for an almost half-size paperback. In buying it I wasn’t sure what I would gain from it that hadn’t been portrayed in the film, which I really enjoyed, however it IS worth reading. What comes across in the book is a fuller portrait of Miss Shepherd than we see in the film, including a much more graphic account of the squalor in which she lived, something which is alluded to, but never seen in all its filth in the screenplay. There were two or three occasions when I gasped at what I had just read, it was just so revolting that a human being could choose to live in these conditions. What is also more apparent in the book is Bennett’s protectiveness towards Miss Shepherd when she is taunted by those who see her as a source of amusement. This softer side to him wasn’t always demonstrated in the film.

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.
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By S J Buck TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 16 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
'The Lady in the Van' is a completely true story. In the 1970's and 1980's outside Alan Bennett's own house in Camden an old lady (Miss Shepherd) lived in a Van in the street. After a time she could no longer stay on the street. Amazingly Bennett allowed her to move her Van into his garden and there she remained until she died.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
read this story before also seen the play at the theatre by the lake in Keswick. The play had other experiences in it there are so many lines in it which have pathos and humour - I know the story is true but it really is a larger than life experience. In the play she is painting the van and Alan Bennett asks what the colour was Hues of Mimosa was her reply and the reason why it was lumpy is because she had dropped her cake in it.

I could go on forever about his writing absolutely fantastic her passing away and the story around it was very poignant
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By Sarah on 13 Dec. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this but was startled to realise how short it is. It's 22 pages long. It's a short story and it would have been helpful to understand this before I spent my money..
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Delightful book, read it in one sitting !! It does remind you there are homeless people that need a helping hand through no fault of their own. We went to see the film which highlighted how vulnerable people are. A few laughs too.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Miss Shepherd is in many ways a typical Alan Bennett character - often very funny yet sometimes tragic and with an interesting tale to tell. She could easily be one of the characters from his 'Talking Heads' monologues. However, this is a work of non-fiction and she actually did come with her collection of plastic bags to live in her van on his front drive - and stayed for a number of years. Bennett brilliantly manages to convey the delicate balance present in their complex relationship, even when it doesn't show him in the most positive of light. As he puts it: 'One seldom was able to do her a good turn without some thoughts of strangulation.' Don't we all know someone like that?

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is such an interesting light read. Not only is Alan Bennett a talented writer, he is clearly a very kind and tolerant human being. He has found himself in a unique situation that not many of us could live alongside - nor our neighbours! He describes the practical issues if Miss S camping on his driveway tactfully with a degree of humour and, on occasion, very slight irritation. What a better world this would be if there were more Alan Bennetts in it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is small, short, happy, sad and sweet. It was a perfect gift for someone who appreciates the human side of humans. Perfectly written, honestly described and just right. Some people are very special and this book contains more than its fair share of them all told.
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