- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
Selective Memory: An Autiobiography Paperback – 7 Aug 2008
|New from||Used from|
Audio Download, Unabridged
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
There is a fair amount of cheerful cynicism here, but also a touching memoir of times and people past (TIMES)
Humorous and bittersweet (OBSERVER)
Katharine Whitehorn's long-awaited and beautifully achieved autobiography, the best present you could give, a book to treasure for its wit, honesty, good sense and warm laughter . . . What she writes is timelessly intelligent, agelessly elegant (TELEGRAPH)
Dry, aphoristic, keenly intelligent (TIMES)
* Now out in paperback, the successful autobiography from the famous and well-loved columnist and author of COOKING IN A BEDSITTER comes her autobiography. Witty and brilliant, these are frank and funny talesSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Ms Whitehorn moves quickly through her early life and her difficult schooldays - she hated her time at Roedean, but was bright enough to make it to Cambridge, after which she applied for a position with the British Council and went to Finland to teach English (although she admits she has no memory of how she applied for the job, who interviewed her and how she got a Finnish work permit) and she later took up a post-graduate place at Cornell University in America. Back in England, she worked at the 'Picture Post', Woman's Own', the 'Spectator' and the 'Observer'. As a columnist her writing was considered pioneering, refreshing and entertaining - her most remembered piece was an article on sluts written in the early sixties for the 'Observer' where she asked her readers: "Have you ever taken anything back out of the dirty-clothes basket because it had become, relatively, the cleaner thing?" In addition to being a columnist, Katharine Whitehorn wrote a series of 'survival' mini-books, including 'How to Survive in Hospital', 'How to Survive in the Kitchen', and her best-selling title was: 'Cooking in a Bedsitter' which remained in print for forty years (and is still available from Amazon). Later, Ms Whitehorn joined the board of the Nationwide Building Society, was President of the Open Section of the Royal Society of Medicine, was involved with the International Women's Forum and was Rector of St Andrews University. And somewhere amongst all of this (the author is rather remiss about providing dates) she married Gavin Lyall (in the late fifties, I think) and she later gave birth to two boys, the first Bernard, in 1964 and then Jake in 1967.
Katharine Whitehorn has certainly had a full and busy life and this briskly paced memoir packs her life, or parts of it, into less than three hundred pages. However, as some other reviewers have commented here, I did not find this memoir as interesting or revelatory as I would have expected and, as Ms Whitehorn only occasionally mentions any dates, I found it necessary to work out for myself when some of the events in her life happened in order to be able to place them in the context of her own life and also in a wider context. In addition, although the author tells us of the major incidents of her life, and she is honest about certain personal aspects of her marriage, such as her husband's heavy drinking and her failure to realize the effect of this on their two boys, this memoir seems more of a relating of events rather than a reflection of how and why certain things happened and what she really felt about them. And, in some respects, that's okay - it's Ms Whitehorn's life and she can tell it the way she wants to and that, I suppose, is the difference between an autobiography, where the author shares with the reader what they can remember and what they are prepared to reveal, and a biography where the biographer thoroughly researches and analyses the life of their subject. So, as an overview of a long and full life, Ms Whitehorn's memoir certainly does an adequate job, but although the author is a very good columnist, I have to be honest and say that I didn't find this as interesting or engaging to read as I would have expected.
I really thought that such a high-powered journalist, who worked through some of the most exciting times on Fleet Street would have done better than this - and, although it feels cruel to say so, maybe Whitehorn should have written her memoirs when she was slightly younger and on better form.
When the book flickered into any kind of life, she came across as a difficult woman, rather full of her own achievements - and I felt rather sorry for her late husband, whom she seems to have treated somewhat condescendingly. (I couldn't quite work out why, he was a few years younger than her and she seems to dismiss him as being somehow less 'experienced' in life, which even if it was true when they met, surely can't have held true for very long!)
All told, a disappointing book - and only goes to show that journalists can't always tell a good story. Possibly because it's hardest to write objectively about yourself.
I finished reading this book only this morning but already, apart from the last section which deals with the death of her husband, writer Gavin Lyall, little of it remains. I was left wanting more, or at least answers to questions. Small wonder she has called it Selective Memory. What really happened when she was fired from jobs? How did she pay her way when she was out of work? Did she 'sign on' and get a Giro payment? How did she get a job in Finland, teaching English to small classes of adults? It is known that in writing it can be either feast of famine, so when did famine (rented accommodation) turn into feast (buying a home; buying a boat; sending their sons to private schools)?
Indeed, the most enjoyable episodes in this book are descriptions of Katharine and Gavin's various boats. But again, Katharine doesn't explain why for one of them the name Simpkin was chosen. I kept asking the journalist's questions which I thought this consummate journalist would've been keen to provide the answers to: who, what, when, where, why and even how?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews