I got this book when one of my friends was going through a decluttering phase in preparation for moving to a new flat. To be honest French and Saunders never fully grabbed my heart or other body parts. I like bits and pieces but have never watched all episodes. Still, I very much have a soft spot in my heart for both French and Saunders. So I was curious to read this book.
Do you know this situation when you really want to like a book? That was the case for me here. It all starts well with French writing a letter to us, her readers. Then she proceeds with the epistolary form, writing letters to her family members, past boyfriends, the bands she loved as a girl, and Madonna. In those letters, she shares her memories and countless stories.
As much s it works at the beginning, especially with the letters to her father, which are both moving and very funny, it quickly loses momentum. The stories, at least for me, didn’t come together to form one picture. Instead, we are dealing with a kaleidoscope of a personal medley of memories. In broad strokes chronological, but lacking a logical or emotional connection that binds them together.
To add to the feeling of a disjointed narrative, the letters to the bands are written in the voice of a starstruck teenager. So we face a constant change of tone, that ruins the emotional rhythm. On the other hand, it clearly tells us one thing we often forget about when reading autobiographies – that they are a creation. Just as our memories tend to be subjective, so do our autobiographies, based on them. Maybe even more, as they are a subjective selection of subjective memories. So a double-whammy.
I was gradually losing interest and finding excuses to read anything else. Hence the book will be added to my extremely short DNF shelf (3 titles in 2020, including this one). Life is too short and I way prefer to listen to Dawn French as she is now, then read her reminiscing on who she was. I still have the autobiography of Jennifer Saunders on my TBR shelf, but I think I’ll approach it with more measured expectations now.
Do you know any comedian’s autobiographies that had you in stitches?
Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska