Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Review - Smut: Two Unseemly Stories by Alan Bennett

My thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan (Picador) for a digital copy of this book.



Smut; Two Unseemly Stories

 by

 Alan Bennett

Smut: Two Unseemly Stories
Profile Books Published in the UK 1March 2012
Picador Books Published in the US January 2012


My Review 5*****

The two novellas that make up Smut are delivered with Alan Bennett’s usual assurance and ease of style, and yet both are quite an aberration of what is normally expected from this gentle satirist.

In The Greening of Mrs Donaldson, we are introduced to the genteel world of tea and chocolate biscuits, and yet behind the net curtains, there is a voyeuristic enactment that takes you completely unaware. Mrs Donaldson is a fifty-five year old widow, who suppresses the tedium of her life by enacting fake illness at her local hospital for medical students to practise on. When her two young lodgers, medical students, Laura and Andy, are unable to pay their rent, they suggest an unusual method of repayment.

In The Shielding of Mrs Forbes, we are again emboldened by the disparity between the central characters. None are who they seem to be, and yet the classification of middle class suburbia is expertly matched within the quirky characterisation. The eponymous Mrs Forbes struggles to see why her devilishly handsome son, Graham, would want to marry a plainer woman, and yet when Graham is blackmailed by a gay rent boy, Mrs Forbes social sensibilities are tested to the limit.

As with all Bennett’s work, the writing and satirical observations are as neat as a new pin, there is enough blend of comic tragedy to make even the most disgruntled reader smile with wry pleasure, and the sense of something naughty going on behind the net curtains is never far from the surface of respectability.





2 comments:

  1. Not usually my kind of thing but it does sound good, thanks for the review

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lainy - This is quite quirky, and very different from what you would expect from Alan Bennett.... but it made me smile x

      Delete

Thanks for taking the time to comment - Jaffa and I appreciate your interest.