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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 5 October 2011
This is a rip-roaring yarn that has countless laugh-out loud moments, but also some surprisingly quiet interludes of genuine depth, as Humphries (acting as the "agent" to his doughty Dame) relates historical and geographical details of antipodean culture, all of which drip with a knowing and self-deprecating satire. I have to agree with a previous reviewer that Humphries' perception of his beloved "Dame Edna" character is really quite "spooky" at times. I witnessed this first hand some years ago when Humphries brought "Dame Edna: the musical" to Guildford. She really is a larger than life character and there is no wonder that - even if book form - she utterly dominates her creator to the point, and arguably beyond the point of reason!
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on 1 July 2012
Barry Humphries has been with Edna Everage since the very beginning. In Handling Edna: The Unauthorised Biography by Barry Humphries he describes how they met, and the adventure she's dragged him along for ever since.

Before the book even begins there is a "Note to the Reader" eluding to the fact that some people have come to believe that Barry Humphries and Dame Edna are essentially the same person. Humphries writes that he hopes to shed some light on where this belief came from, so that the reader can make their own decision about what they believe.

The first chapter starts in Moonee Ponds, Australia and describes how Barry and Edna met. Humphries writes in the first person, and throughout the book uses description to indicate the decade and location of events he describes.

Each chapter gives an entertaining and fascinating insight into Barry's life and career (or lack of), Edna and her family's life and careers, her rise to stardom (and Barry's lack of understanding as to why) and the problems that it brought her - all in a chronological order.

A few highlights (in no particular order) include Barry being the warm up act for Dame Edna - for various shows; Edna's time in Hollywood; Barry's stint in hospital with alcoholism and Edna being his only visitor; Barry's love life; Barry's impersonation of Edna on two occasions - the first for his benefit and the second trying to help her; Edna's poor mental health - in particular in relation to the death of Norm (her husband).

As the chapters go on, towards the end of the book you start to get a fictional feel to the book especially in the final few chapters. Earlier in the book Barry is handed a letter for Edna by Madge. Madge instructs Barry to only give the letter to Edna when she dies. In the final chapter Madge finally dies in hospital. Barry remembers the letter and it reveals that Edna's missing daughter Lois was taken by Madge in a moment of madness (which explains why Madge tolerated Edna over the decades). Madge writes that she gave Lois to some old friends to raise as their own, with Lois calling her Auntie Madge. In the hospital, the nurse turns out to be called Lois and is upset as her Auntie Madge has just died.

Having read the book do I believe that Barry Humphries and Edna Everage are the same person? Yes I think they are the same person, but that only makes Humphries even cleverer. The factual parts about Barry's life are interesting to read, but the fiction about Edna is even more interesting. It not only makes the book very entertaining, but it gives an insight into the psyche of Humphries.

The book was a brilliant read, and as you'd expect from a bibliography it has several glossy photo pages throughout the book.
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VINE VOICEon 28 July 2011
This book is about Dame Edna Everage and is written by Barry Humphries from the viewpoint of Edna's agent. As it is focused on Dame Edna there are gaps from Barry's life although he has written two other autobiographies such as "More, Please: An Autobiography" (which he says only mentions him playing Edna in his shows because of the pressure he was put under at the to,e by his publishers to write the story in that way to maximise sales) if you want to fill those gaps.

As for Dame Edna's life all the peripheral characters such as the invalid husband Norm, the housemaid Madge and the sons and daughters make an appearance. It is amazing how many times the author mentions the similarities between his mother and Dame Edna. It's as if Dame Edna could have been a character creation based on his mother?

There is also an appendix with a few different bits and pieces of Dame Edna's material as a sort of DVD extra section.

All in all this was an informative read about a comedy icon even if it is a work of fiction (or not as the case may be).
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on 1 March 2014
I'm loving listening to the audiobook by Barry Humphries of his revelatory 2009 unauthorised biography "Handling Edna". Always entertaining, and very often hilarious - but all beautiful spoken as both Barry and Edna. Barry Humphries, as personal manager and co-star of Dame Edna Everage, shares his intimate perspective of the housewife gigastar - and allows us to see her world unfiltered (something Edna is incapable of). Edna saw the world through heavily framed heterocentric glasses: "Fancy a woman wanting to play "Doctors And Nurses" with another woman!" - and one of the many moments I like this book (the audiobook in particular) is when Barry tells us how a blinkered Edna moved in a decidedly gay world.
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on 30 April 2012
This begins really well, like one of those William Boyd novels where you can't tell what is fiction and what reality. Barry Humphries relates the story not only of his life but how he discovered the great Dame. The first disc had plenty of belly laughs. However, some way through the second the pace and concept slacks off. It moves from a hybrid of reality and fiction that teases you into what is / is not real and becomes more like a novel than the fictitious biography it claims to be. By the end implausibility is heaped upon implausibility and it just runs out of laughs. I love Barry Humphries and Dame Edna - but this disappointed. On the plus side, Barry's reading is brilliant!
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on 24 August 2011
How could anyone resist the temptation to learn more about this beloved character, megastar, entertainer and comic?! Written by Barry Humphries who as we all know knows Edna better than anyone, we get a remarkable insight into Edna's life and how she came to be the megastar we know and love. The purple fluffy world of planet Everage it seems can also be a sad and sometimes spooky place, but this somehow makes Edna more real and it doesn't stop the laughs at all. The only sinister question is that both Barry and Edna seem to meld quite often....but the book explains that too and theres even the possibility that we get a cheeky peek at some of Ednas romantic dalliances too and they are far from old fashioned! Other beloved characters are featured too, the long suffering Madge, Norm and her children. Its a must read possums!
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on 13 June 2011
Written as if Edna is a real person and Humphries is her "agent". Humphries carries off this ludicrous deception with conviction; consequently, the writing verges on psychotic in a way I hadn't expected, and it left an unsettling sense of being in the presence of madness of a kind I had never encountered before.
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on 28 January 2015
I am a great fan of Edna/Barry and have seen most of her shows in the UK.I found this book in the local library.What I would say is that this is wryly amusing and passes the time.Obviously not quite as good as seeing Dame Edna in the flesh but since she has performed her farewell show a year or two back it seems that we are unlikely to be able to enjoy this unique brand of humour again.
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on 21 July 2012
I couldn't understand the point of this book, its not funny and it isn't a biography. I quite like Barry, thats why I thought I would like the book. But with no straight-man to upstage, the book relies on making humour out of the continued insistance that Barry and Edna are seperate people, recounting many of the milestones of his carear as if this were the case. Not Factual not Funny!
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on 26 May 2014
This book cheered me up so much. Wonderful laugh out loud moments . Like other comments it was hard to divorce fact from fiction and I began to feel sorry for Barry and Edna. Better than Valium !,,,
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