A slightly below par offering from Alan Bennett, this two-parter promises much but fails to completely satisfy. Hmm! I remember hearing much the same from my ex-wife :( In his first story Mrs Donaldson, she of the shapely legs, is a widow in her mid-fifties contriving to boost her meagre pension by various subterfuges, one of which is disapproved of by her daughter, the other which would surely cause her apoplexy were she ever to find out, or there again... one can never fully divine what secret desires lurk in the inner recesses of the female mind - I can't anyway, which is probably why I'm single. I failed to connect with Mrs Donaldson (Amongst others)as she came across as an atypical fifty-something being apparently unfamiliar with anything sexual, many of the women of that age with whom I am acquainted (I won't say intimate, too many questions spoil the broth)are veritable babes, most are certainly aware of intimacy in its manifold and glorious variants. Moreover, I have yet to hear a woman of that age refer to a garment as a frock, unless it's to discuss some prurient article in the gutter-press referring to certain men of the cloth who may have become wayward. It is obvious that Mr Bennett and I move in quite different circles, that fact notwithstanding perhaps Mrs Donaldson and I need to hook up for a part-time evening one-to-one class.
The sad tale of Mrs Forbes, her son of questionable sexuality, and his less than stunning covert-raver wife left me feeling much the same as tale number one. Our mummy's boy decides to get married for a number of reasons, one financial (Ha! And you thought only women were gold-diggers), the other a mere matter of obfuscation and camouflage for his extracurricular activities which would give his mother something more than the vapours, one feels it's something more than smelling salts that she requires, especially after her husband's glorious chat-up line whilst they're doing the obligatory wedding dance. Daughter-in-law Betty (How cheap! Just what kind of slatternly name is that? Ooh I came over all Mrs Forbes just then),Mrs Forbes believes, is of questionable lineage (Knowing Leeds more intimately would have helped her immensely here, I feel). However our Bet takes the bull by the horns and all is well, although by the denoument someone is going to have to answer a lot of awkward questions or put up a heavy smokescreen. Should Mrs Forbes be in need of some unofficial counselling Mr Bennett need only put her in touch with me at this address.
I think that any book, in this case the audio book, which starts with the line "I gather you're my wife. I don't think I have had the pleasure" is bound to grab the reader's attention and ensure that they want to carry on reading (listening).
In this case it was worth carrying on as the 2 short stories contained on the 4 cds were worth listening to if not great works of literature, more of a light hearted sexual foray into the lives of "normal people".
My main enjoyment of the two stories was not the "plots" but the amusing way that the stories are presented with Mr Bennett's satirical style of writing and while the content may be mild by today's standards I don't think I would buy this for my Gran.
Although the plots, for me, came second to the style they were still OK with some unpredictable turns but as the story progressed the endings were just about predictable. There is a lot already written in these reviews on what the stories are about and I don't think it is necessary to repeat this nor add to it and possibly spoil the book for people who have yet to read it.
One consideration is whether Mr Bennett's voice appeals to the listener as it is a bit of a slow drawl but his pronunciation is very good and easily understandable. This may be a consideration when choosing between the book and the audio cds.
Overall I enjoyed this work and would recommend it and buy some more of a similar type.
I'm an Alan Bennett fan - I have most of his works. I think he was having a 'down moment' when he wrote this. I'm not shocked by erotica but this is just as the title says 'smut'. All a bit unnecessary and not worthy of such a literary pen. No I don't like it.