Monday, 16 April 2012

Book review: Smut

By Alan Bennett
Published by Profile Books

I first came across Alan Bennett’s writing a few years ago, when The Uncommon Reader was published. I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to repeat such a pleasant experience but I’m so glad to have come across Smut on its recent release in paperback.

First published in April 2011, Smut is composed of two stories: The Greening of Mrs Donaldson and The Shielding of Mrs Forbes.

In the former, Mrs Donaldson has a complete change of lifestyle when her husband dies, thus bringing a dull marriage to an end. To make ends meet, she starts working at the hospital as a patient simulator, participating in medical training scenarios. She also takes in lodgers: a couple who, despite not playing loud music, are not perfect and are often in arrears with the rent. But who said that a non-monetary arrangement cannot be worked out? Mrs Donaldson soon finds out that acting, for her, is not limited to the hospital environment. And she likes it!

The Mrs Forbes of the second story is a middle-aged woman, mother to Graham, wife to Ted and reluctant mother-in-law to Betty, all three of whom - for different reasons - are busy protecting her from finding out truths that would shake the quiet world of respectability that she’s created for herself. To do so, they also have to hide facts from each other, which makes for a story full of funny and quirky situations.

These two unseemly stories are delightfully witty and - despite my limited experience of Bennett’s oeuvre - I’d say that they offer the intelligent elegance which is typical of his work. Words have been chosen carefully and provide a freshness and spontaneity that will remain unchanged regardless of how many times you read them.

Smut is a book I’d recommend to anyone who loves words and needs some fun in their life. And then I’d also recommend it to everyone else!

2 comments:

So many books, so little time said...

Hmm not sure how I feel about this one, sounds different. Thanks for the review

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

Brighton Blogger said...

Hi Lainy! Why exactly are you not sure about this?