Naked: Tragedies, Comedies and Discoveries. The Journey Continues... Paperback – 25 Apr 2009
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Review by Tony Kendrew (former Sunday Times Reviewer) The second volume of Anneke's autobiography continues the same remarkable adventure of her life in the same delightfully fresh and self-effacing prose we enjoyed in Self Portrait. While the first book reflects on the social whirlwind of the swinging sixties, the second book takes us into deeper territory. Anneke dares to follow the questionings of her restless soul and where they take her is described with honesty and humour. Naked is not the calm after the youthful storm of Self Portrait. On the contrary, the intensity of tragedy and comedy only seems to increase, with life ratcheting it up until we feel like crying "Enough, enough!". Happily we are spared the 'poor me' approach and are astonished at Anneke's resilience and her ability to bounce back and delight in whatever life throws her way. May we all be as natural, open and honest. --www.annekewills.com
The natural reaction to a second volume of someone s autobiography is to ask whether it s warranted, surely no-one s story is worth two books? Thing is, with Anneke it s very much a case of her cramming half a dozen lives into one lifetime, so fitting it all into just the two volumes is quite a feat! The first volume, Self Portrait, charted her family history, childhood, and early years as an actress, before her work on Doctor Who, Strange Report and other programmes. The most interesting part of this first book was her life beyond the cameras, so anyone who was left dangling at the end wondering what this amazing person did with her life after retiring from acting is sure to grab Naked as soon as it becomes available. The story takes up where it left off, with Anneke living a real life version of The Good Life in Norfolk, growing vegetables, keeping goats, and developing her talent as an artist and interior decorator. Not all is chocolate boxes and roses though, as her husband Michael Gough is constantly away with his acting and frequently distant (or downright cheating) whenever at home. A faithful wife and mother, Anneke yearns for love as a person in her own right, and no amount of transference activity can make her truly whole. An opportunity arises, and Anneke goes travelling in the Far East. She learns a lot about herself as she encounters other cultures and philosophies, and becomes involved in the life of spiritual leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, spending years travelling the world as a valued disciple. Never one to be tied down though, when it s time to move on, Anneke does. She lives a life amongst a community of artists on a small Canadian island, finds work in California as a designer and gardener, and rediscovers the world of Doctor Who whilst living in Vancouver in 1996. It s this that brings her into the world of fandom, and because of that there s a great deal more Doctor Who coverage here than in the first volume, when she was actually working on the show. Anneke discovers the joys of conventions, befriending fellow Who glitterati, becoming involved with Big Finish productions and BBC audiobooks, and meeting David Tennant as an honoured guest on set! Anneke s second book I have to say had a profound effect on me. Written with love, honesty, and total frankness, you don t just read about her life, you experience it. It made me question my own life, not so much in the sense of making me drop everything and rush off to India, but more in the way I view possessions and relationships with my friends: it s not what you clutter your life up with that s important, but how you are with other people and how you regard yourself. Both these volumes paint a picture of a life that s suffered tragedy beyond my capacity to imagine, and joy that s conveyed without any need for rose-tinted spectacles. Anneke Wills is a person whose life is very much her own, and whilst not all her choices have been right for her, it s made her the wonderful person we know and love today. --www.annekewills.com
Top Customer Reviews
Picking up when the first volume left off with the whole family upping sticks and moving to Norfolk, the conversational style which made the original so hard to put down continues. Country life though is just as unpredictable and as complex even far removed from the Swinging Sixties London, which was one of the draws of Self Portrait.
Trying to find her way through her marriage and find some peace in her life Anneke leads you through her quite invigorating journey of self-discovery. I felt quite astonished at the bravery of this woman who never gives up. Keeps on moving forward, whether she's alone, living as a hermit on the other side of the planet from her friends and children. Or in various communities of similar-minded individuals.
Like the first volume she shares with you her frustration with some of the people in her life. How can they treat someone like that? But she doesn't overly dwell on these experiences and just tells her stories and carries on. Even through some horrendus heartbreaks she now conveys a sense of calm acceptance which quite moved me. Devestating though they are. She's come to terms with them and let them shape her life in a positive way.
Anneke's vitality, wit and determination continue to shine through and I had much the same conundrum as reading Self Portrait. I stopped reading for a while because I didn't want there to be nothing more to read. Of course eventually I had to accept that sitting experiencing her discoveries, tragedies and comedies should end in her own way.
For the Who fans, the familiar names return near the end of the book.Read more ›
As in the first volume, there are quite a few famous names mentioned but this is no celebrity "Look who I've met" story. The famous people Miss Wills mentions all have a reason to be mentioned. She seems to collect people as she travels the world and somehow retains friendships across oceans and continents.
A minor quibble is that the text was obviously checked using a spell checker as there are a few instances of wrong words appearing which I only mention as the writing is so excellent that these stand out more than they would in a lesser work. I would have liked a few more date checks, as when dates are mentioned it gives a reference point. I found myself comparing and contrasting what I was doing at the dates that are mentioned.
Like another reviewer I did struggle a bit with the section covering her years in the Ashram. But it says something for Anneke's style and personality that I was never tempted to simply skip ahead at any point.
Towards the end there is a jaw dropping revelation picking up an unfinished story from "Self Portrait".
As the story comes more up to date there is a strong feeling of reaching the end of a long journey with a remarkable travel guide. When I reached the last few pages I felt a genuine sadness that the journey was soon to finish. If you want to read an autobiography that has something new, interesting and ultimately uplifting to say - choose these two volumes.
As her journey continues, her children grow up, she moves on in her ever changing life. Many imagine taking off and following their dreams, Anneke was brave enough to do it. Not all may agree with what she did and how she did it. Going of to an Ashram, marriages of convenience, picking up sticks and moving on when the mood takes her but you will find it hard not to want to find out what happened when she did!
Throughout you find yourself admiring her courage and strength of conviction, her honesty with herself and those around her.
Filled with wonderful photographs, this book takes you on a journey of person looking for and I think ultimately, finding herself.
Even if you have not heard of Anneke Wills, this is a beautiful and at times heartbreaking story of one woman's life. You find yourself hoping there will be a part three.