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on 3 October 2016
I have to admit I am not normally an Alan Bennett fan, but after reading the synopsis and other reviews, I thought I would give this book a try (I am not a film person, would much rather read the book the film is based on!). I really enjoyed this book; it was a little short, but very enjoyable! I won't bother explaining the plot, but even though this story had a gentle pace to it, you couldn't really put it down! The interaction between Alan and Miss Shepherd is classic, and even better knowing that it is true. Miss Shepherd comes across as a very interesting women, but one you would never really get under the skin of. It is a sad fact that across this country that there are many Miss Shepherd's; let's hope they will all find an Alan Bennett to watch out for them.
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VINE VOICEon 27 March 2016
I enjoyed the film of Alan Bennett's 'The Lady in the Van' so much so, that I decided to buy the book that gave birth to the film, and I am not disappointed. This true short story is an absolute delight as he recounts his relationship with Miss Mary Shepherd, who lived her eccentric life, in a van, on the drive of his house, until her death.

Funny in a way that only Bennett seems to acheive, I saw elements of Miss Shepherd in myself and worryingly, I have recently bought a van to add to my own eccentric collection of vehicles. Her letters to Margaret Thatcher and other leaders made me realise that there are further elements of Miss Shepherd within me.

I would recommend this little book to anyone to laugh at, but to also reflect upon own eccentricities. Thank you Mary Shepherd.
In future I promise to not take life and myself so seriously (possibly).
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Now as a film Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van has amused us all for some years. Based on a true story about Miss Shepherd, the lady of the title Mr Bennett found himself offering at first somewhere for her to stay – in his shed – which then turned into fifteen years of tenancy in various vehicles in his front garden.

Miss S as she is usually called here was certainly someone who although an eccentric was also quite domineering, and it is quite telling here how she ruled Alan to a certain extent. He may have got on with his life, but there was always the indomitable Miss S in the front garden of his Camden Town home.

Quite funny and poignant at times I think this is an ideal time to read this what with the current policies of this government. As Mr Bennett mentions here, he only really came to find out more about Miss S after she died, and in fact met her brother. Miss S obviously had mental issues and thus became someone who either fell through the net or wished to do so. With people like Miss S and current policies she would have been led a right merry dance by government offices and would have had to do courses and find a job to get any benefits, despite the fact that she obviously was quite unemployable, as we see here with her ideas of being on TV and running the country.

A short but quite pithy observation Alan Bennett has given us something here that has remained as relevant as when he first penned his pieces on Miss S.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 17 March 2016
An interesting read, Just show's what length people can go to help others in need.

Although this isn't the longest of reads, I am glad i have read it. Not yet watched the film, So looking forward to experiencing this by watching the film..I do wish there was just slightly more to read than there is.

It's written in a diary style, So may not be to everyone's taste. But i think once you start reading it and you hear about the bizarre going's on in Alan Bennett's driveway then i think you will want to read right through to the end like i did. Humour along side a compelling story of the two totally different individuals living side by side.

Defiantly a worth while read.
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on 15 April 2011
a lovely little read, written in Bennett's sharp observations, the tone is sometimes funny, sometimes incredulous and sometimes very touching. i wish i'd met her!
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on 12 April 2016
Wonderful AlanBennett observation and wry humour. A situation which most people would have found hard to tolerate, but which he accepted - albeit with some frustration at times - with great humanity and genuine concern for the individual. A timely reminder that every person has their own story and that sometimes the way they live their lives is as a result of circumstances or events that have dramatically changed their direction, or pulled the rug out from under their feet, leaving them floundering to find an anchor.
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on 14 June 2016
This was enjoyable but I think I liked it more because I had already seen the film. Without the experience of seeing the movie, I don't think I would have really felt the character of Mrs Shepherd and it helped that I had the idea of Maggie Smith as her. In the movie you get a rounder view of how other people reacted to Mrs Shepherd such as the other neighbours and this was missing in the essays.
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on 24 January 2016
The book is disappointing but only because having Alan Bennett read it to you is so much better and seeing the film is extraordinary. This is a story of pathos, courage and kindness made even more poignant because it is true. The fierce independence of the Lady in the Van and the efforts of those who tried to make her life more comfortable make for sometimes uncomfortable reading for middle class readers such as myself sitting in their warm, clean, well stocked homes. Having said that, there is humour and love in this book im equal measure, so,read, understand and enjoy.
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on 5 April 2016
I saw Alan Bennett on the One Show discussing the story of The Lady in the Van which was being made into a film with Dame Maggie Smith playing the lead role! However I subsequently forgot all about it until I saw this book!
What a great read it has been picturing Dame Maggie as the eccentric and indomitable Miss Shepherd it certainly brought the book to life. Mr Bennett deserved a medal having put up with her living in his drive for 15 years!!!
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on 13 January 2016
I loved this book. I wanted to see the film when it was out and never got round to it, so decided to read the book instead. Alan Bennett's style of writing conjured up the scenes beautifully. It is only a relevantly short book. This fact has been frowned upon by some other reviewers, However it suited me down to the ground, as someone who is trying to get back into regular reading. I enjoyed the book so much that I have now downloaded his' Father ! Father ! Burning Bright' and will be back with a review once finished.
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