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Romany and Tom: A Memoir by [Watt, Ben]
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Romany and Tom: A Memoir Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Length: 369 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Neither sentimental nor savage, yet often wise, moving and entertaining within the same paragraph, Romany and Tom is a major achievement to rival any of Watt's recordings
- Guardian

You know when everyone last month was going 'Ben Watt's Romany & Tom is amazing?' I've just read it. It really is
- Caitlin Moran

Romany and Tom may be the most beguiling book you’ll read all year ... He has a songwriter’s gift for the deft phrase, while his powers of observation and recall are quite extraordinary ... Rather like Watt’s musical compositions ... this book is at once downbeat and uplifting
- Mail on Sunday

A poignant, life-affirming work
- Financial Times

INCREDIBLE … I read it in two huge gulps. It’s funny, incredibly moving, beautifully written, really thought-provoking
- Alexis Petridis

Forget Morrissey: Romany & Tom is the most beautiful, compelling memoir by a musician you’ll read for a very long time
- John Niven

[An] elegantly written and clear-sighted memoir ... Romany and Tom is a tender work infused with the understanding that this is the final chapter of two rich and complex lives ... Watt’s reluctance to sentimentalise the experience makes it that much more powerful, cutting to the heart of the frustrations that come with caring for one’s parents who were, not long ago, just like us
- Independent on Sunday

It is a beautiful book, a story which will resonate with many and in many different ways. There are moments when I laughed and parts when I had to stop reading for a bit, draw breath and then continue
- Gideon Coe, BBC 6 Music

Watt has written about personal trauma before in his 1996 memoir Patient. This … pulses with the same combination of clarity and kindness. Unsentimental and humane
- Telegraph

Closely observed, brilliantly written and unsparing
- David Hepworth

As a DJ and one half of Everything But The Girl (with his partner Tracey Thorn), Ben Watt knows better than most the impact fame can have on identity. But in his poignant new memoir, Romany and Tom, he channels that knowledge through his parents’ lives - Harper’s Bazaar

Book Description

An extraordinary achievement. A moving, funny and beautifully written memoir by musician, DJ and writer Ben Watt which carefully chronicles his parents' lives, their marriage and their decline into old age

Longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, 2014

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1454 KB
  • Print Length: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (13 Feb. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00H7XTR1Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #50,054 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Could any memoir really be as good as all of these professional reviewers suggest? In my view, for once the answer is actually yes. If you have any familiarity with Ben Watt, or even if you don’t, this is a revealing and engaging story. Apart from being intelligent, reflective and well-written, it feels to be a story openly and honestly told; extremely rare traits in the vast majority of autobiographies.
Ben is probably best known as a musician and songwriter, one half of EBTG with Tracey Thorn, DJ, “Buzzin’ Fly” producer. But he is also a very good writer indeed, if not exactly prolific. He should write more, instead of a book every twenty years or so. His previous autobiography (also essential reading), “Patient” (Penguin 1996) was centred on the life threatening auto-immune disease that he contracted in 1992. “Romany and Tom” is indeed a portrait of Ben’s mum and dad, but much more than that, it has a wider focus; in Ben’s words, it is “about who we are, where we come from, and how we love and live with each other for a long time.” Clearly, these are the universal themes of literature and life. Happy families may well be all alike, (i.e. dull and not very inspiring as far as creativity and drama are concerned), and every unhappy family may be unhappy in its own way, but perversely, the idiosyncrasies of sadness are really the things which bring us together and connect us. The narrative takes us through the changing relationships and dynamics of Romany and Tom and Ben and his wider family. The years unfold, and with the wisdom of experience and personal insight, Ben unwraps the human frailties of his parents, and also himself.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
At times this compelling story made me feel a bit intrusive. Its thoughtful and bracingly honest - I could have done without the description of his Dad's ablutions.

I've sung along in the car with Ben and Tracey on and off since about 1985, but know little else about them. Part of the reason I started going out with my wife in 1990 was because our record collections overlapped a bit around the LPs Eden and the Marine Girls.

Anyway, we finally saw Ben live for the first time (with Bernard Butler) at a lovely low key gig in Nottingham a few weeks ago. The music was great, his guitar and keyboard playing always lights up part of my brain, but there was more wistfulness to the songs than I expected.

So I took the book on holiday this summer to Skye. It's a tough story about his talented and successful parents, about their affair, their weaknesses, careers and about how they got old.

If you are a contemporary, dealing with children, ageing parents and the middle of your career, this book provides a chance to reflect on each age and how we end up being who we are.

It's a great story by a great man, and his singing wife who does understand.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A beautifully written, elegiac, and profoundly moving book. It's about love , loss, parents and families, about generational differences and similarities and seeing yourself in your parents as you get older, whilst simultaneously feeling them slip from your grasp. The fundamental truth that we do not know the people our parents were before they were our parents , is wonderfully exposed and explored. I came to this as a fan of Ben and Tracey's music and a big fan of Tracey's book, but still was surprised, impressed and constantly moved by Ben's spare but perfectly weighted prose, as well as the raw emotion he sometimes expressed and was matched by my own as reader. By the end I felt I knew something of these two fascinating people I had never met. A gem of a book, rendered with love.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is no doubt that this book got published because of Ben Watt's profile as a musician, but thank goodness he was able to use that lever to bring his story to the rest of us. This is a real "everyman" tale, of parents, childhood, family, and that precarious phase when you are poised at the fulcrum of life's wobbly see-saw, with declining parents teetering at one end and young children bouncing up and down at the other end. Ben attempts to piece together "Romany and Tom's" back-story at a time when he is shuttling between care homes, hospitals and their general descent down the property ladder, trying to make his parents' lives as bearable as possible. Everything is laid bare in the process - family secrets, parental failings and faults, and the author's own demons. I can imagine the writer's struggle with how best to tell the story, given its complexity and chronology. What emerges is a fragmentary collage of fading memories and revived recollections from long ago, reflecting exactly what our family stories are like - most of us know embarrassingly little about our parents' and grandparents' lives, but by the time we realise that, it's generally too late to find out what we want to know. Fortunately, Ben Watt realised in time, and if his book wasn't published in time for many of the people involved to read it, there is lots here for the rest of us to reflect on, and perhaps try to grab hold of those around us while we can as a result.
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