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A Life Like Other People's Paperback – 29 Apr 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 108 customer reviews

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Paperback, 29 Apr 2010
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (29 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571248136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571248131
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.6 x 16.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 140,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

`A beautiful little book, full of love regret and the dignity of unremarkable lives.' --Daily Mail

`This poignant memoir is Bennett at his superlative best.' --Val Hennessy

`It's the small details at which Bennett excels, lending poignancy to otherwise unremarkable moments.' --Aberdeen Press & Journal --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

The acclaimed title piece from Bennett's bestselling collection Untold Stories.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I didn't realise that this book was extracted from Bennett's "Untold stories" until I received it. As I had read that and enjoyed the former immensely when it was published in 2005 I felt rather disappointed.

It was worth re-reading even though I had a copy of the original on shelves a few feet away. I blame the reviewer in the Yorkshire Evening Post who did't say (or notice) that the work wasn't original. Partly my own fault as well for not checking carefully before I bought it.
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Format: Hardcover
These days Alan Bennett is enjoying a well deserved renaissance with a new play The Habit of Art opening this month in London, plus the recent hit play/film The History Boys, novel The Uncommon Reader and Pen/Ackerley Prize winning non-fiction collection Untold Stories remain fresh in our minds. This new volume was lifted in it's entirety from Untold Stories, and deservedly so. In A Life Like Other People's the openly gay Bennett tells with great wit and measured sentimentality the story of his parents and maternal aunts.

We are treated to truly inspired reminisces of the author's earliest and formative years. The story of how his parents met, and their absurd wedding ceremony (or lack there of), his mothers mental illness, and his father's all consuming steadfastness. There is a poignant scene of visiting his mother in an asylum; a harrowing scene of searching for an aunt with Alzheimer's who's slipped away from her hospital ward. There are revelations of family secrets, as well as ribald stories of marital misadventure. Finally there is a heartrending scene in a nursing home between mother and son that left this reader gob smacked by the purity of the writing.

This volume (which I ordered from Amazon.UK) is a precious gift of memories and observations, anecdotes and personal judgments harsh, humorous and unabashedly honest
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Format: Hardcover
A Life Like Other People's, which I keep wanting to call A Life Amongst Others though I have no idea why, is about his formative years though mainly it looks at the relationships of his parents. I don't have any of Bennett's previous diaries and memoires to compare this too, though I will be making sure that changes, though what I have always loved about Bennett is his `real writing'. He looks at people, and himself, and the actions of real people their emotions there thoughts the whole gambit. There are no tricks and though there is often drama its never written to be dramatic or to gain readers its simply life.

The simplistic and honest writing style is incredibly endearing. Scenes can be quite harrowing and emotional and yet there will be some slight comedy around the corner, its not intentional or planned it's just the way it is. Two scenes that really hit me were between him and his mother, which almost made me cry, and his mother searching for her sister in a dementia ward. I loved the story of his parents wedding and why there were no pictures as his parents didn't want any `splother'. You will have to read the book to find out just what that means and how they got around it and I cant recommend you do that highly enough.
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Format: Hardcover
Bennett at his best - he is the nearest we have to Chekhov.
His powers of observation of the most ordinary things and people are accurate - but he is never boring. He writes 'from life'.
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Format: Paperback
Whatever your thoughts may be on Alan Bennett's varying works, I would not let it deter you from reading `A Life Like Other People's'. Originally released in 2005 in the compilation `Untold Stories' it was released on it own in 2009. It is a beautifully honest account of Alan Bennett's childhood through to adulthood and the relationships he had with his parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles. He recounts with humour and feeling his early relationship with his mother and father and how he grew to understand and appreciate their foibles. He recounts the family gatherings of his youth at Christmas with recurring trips to the same family members and the feeling of relief when it was all over; something I feel most people will be able to empathise with. Also ever present throughout the book are his two aunties (his mother's sisters) Kathleen and Lemira (Myra), two unmarried aunts, totally mischievous and a complete opposite to his mother. All the family is written about with sincerity and admiration and a good sprinkling of humour that had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. One example being a photo from Aunty Myra's many albums (always out for family visits) from her days in the W.A.A.F. The photograph in question is of two Australian soldiers `Jordy' and `Ossie' in bush hats and bathing trunks. This in itself may not appear remarkable until you turn the page of the book and read what the playful devil may care Myra had written and imagine a twelve year old Alan Bennett scanning through these albums. I will leave it to future readers to discover this incident and the many other amusing anecdotes that appear throughout this book.
The latter part of the book reflects on Alan Bennett's relationship with his family as they grow older and the challenges that arise.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed a television programme with Alan Bennett, in his flat, scholarly vowels, talking about his youth, and another about his army days. At first I thought that this book might be a bit dry in comparison, but it is not. Bennett writes very well, holding your attention with his interesting detail and a touch of humour. But it is not an entirely light book: indeed it is introspective and soulful on occasion.

There were various bits with which I could identify. For example how the disadvantages of being "shy" are sometimes thought to be offset by perceived virtues. And the propensity of bored, elderly people to try to fill their days by doing things earlier and earlier.

My family background is as fractured and complex as Bennett's, but I doubt if a published autobiography would get many readers. But then I'm not Alan Bennett, and I don't write anywhere near as well as he does. I read this book quickly, which was not difficult because it is so good.
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