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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 26 June 2010
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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on 6 November 2009
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 August 2016
Alan Bennett has a distinct and very particular style; this book couldn't have been written by anyone else. I found myself actually hearing his voice and delivery as I read the words and was totally beguiled by a story which contains so many characters and scraps of characters from his plays. The inspiration for some of the situations and lines in his dramas are clearly taken from an odd assortment of individuals; his close family.

His parents were unremarkable; both shy, happy in each other's company and and defined by their many constraints. His 'mam' suffered with mental health problems throughout her life and the insight into how her illness affected those around her is poignant, touching and often amusing. I loved the story of his dad's suits; 'the suit' and 'the other suit' which he wore for work and leisure almost throughout his life.

Reading this was like dropping into a parallel world where values and aspirations were different. His aunties were real characters and I was drawn into their story and again, how their lives shaped that of those around them. If you enjoy Bennett's work, I reckon you'll like this honest and occasionally heartbreaking account of his formative and middle years. It's a fairly egocentric view, but I'd expect no less! I enjoyed it and it's a tribute to those closest to him. He's brought them vividly to life as people.
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on 16 December 2009
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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on 3 October 2009
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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I have come to an appreciation of Alan Bennett late in life, but I am not disappointed that I didn't discover him earlier. Everything I have seen or read of his so far has been wonderful and gives me a great sense of satisfaction that I still have a large back catalogue of his material to go at. This story of his parents' relationship, and by connection his extended family life, is a gem. I understand that it has been taken from a longer volume, Untold Stories, which I will be putting on my Christmas list in eager anticipation.

This short volume is by turns achingly funny and achingly sad. It tells a story of complex family relationships and that peculiar love/hate relationship we have with our parents as we grow into adulthood. It is beautifully paced, totally unsentimental and yet full of love. Bennett has that wonderful quality of being able to write with clarity about his own mixed emotions that makes what he writes about seem tender and true.

A wonderful book.
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on 1 February 2010
This is only the second book I have read of Alan Bennett. Having just seen his new play "The Habit of Art" which was very funny, giving you a special insight into the lives of the characters & the era it was set in I felt driven to experience his other works. This book tells the story of his family life warts & all. It is very honest even about his own failings & I found it a very moving book.
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on 5 January 2015
I bought it as a xmas present as well as for myself, as I think Alan Bennett is our best contemporary writers. Buying a second-hand copy for my copy was a great idea: the condition of the book is perfect.
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on 20 August 2011
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. There is the obvious decline in health that occurs in people as they age and the author writes about this in a passionate and thoughtful way as he shares with the reader incidents that may be thought of as private, yet they still add to the overall mood of the book. I really enjoyed this book and the author's candid portrayal of his familial story through joy and sadness and wholeheartedly recommend it.
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on 1 December 2016
My,favourite Alan Bennett story.I cried and laughed,it brought back memories of my childhood and local sayings.loved it.I shared his guilt and indifference as his mother aged,and his anger of his father dying early,through caring for his beloved wife Lillian.
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