Two unexpected tales written and read by the best-selling author of The Uncommon Reader, Untold Stories and The History Boys.
"The Greening of Mrs Donaldson" - Mrs Donaldson is a conventional middle-class woman beached on the shores of widowhood after a marriage that had been much like many others: happy to begin with, then satisfactory and finally dull. But when she decides to take in two lodgers, her mundane life becomes much more stimulating...
"The Shielding of Mrs Forbes" - Graham Forbes is a disappointment to his mother, who thinks that if he must have a wife, he should have done better. True, her own husband isn't all that satisfactory either. Still, this is Alan Bennett, so what is happening in the bedroom (and in lots of other places too) is altogether more startling, perhaps shocking, and ultimately more true to people's predilections.
©2011 Alan Bennett (P)2011 AudioGo Ltd
"Artfully entertaining...On one particular subject Bennett is incomparably brilliant: role-playing, which is the meat of both stories." (Simon Schama, Financial Times, London)
"Bennett's humor consistently resides in the logic of the parenthetical aside, the comedy of the false appearances or misperceptions being challenged or disabused....Mrs. Donaldson is not as unconventional as she thought herself, and no one around Mr. Forbes is where-or who-they pretend to be." (The Guardian, London)
"Tender and comic...This is Bennett's world, where repression is never far from the sexual act....Good, old-fashioned British humor with the lightest of subversive twists." (The Independent, London)
Very light, enjoyable and amusing stories. Excellently read by the author, whose observations are as sharp as ever.
"Bennett at his best!"
I love Alan Bennett, the man can do no wrong. These two short stories revolving around sex in its various forms are funny and oddly sweet. Bennett is brilliant at forming flawed, human characters who are, if not likeable, at least relatable. A great quick listen, definitely one for a rainy day or a long journey.
"Bennett delights as always."
Surprising stuff from Mr Bennett. Risqué and funny. Wonderful to hear Alan Bennett reading his own material.
Two more great stories from the master of 'people watchers'. Once again, Bennett's characters are on the fringes of their communities, looking for ways to 'fit in', although not quite managing it. Doesn't disappoint - Bennett fans will be delighted.
"Very Witty and makes you Smile"
As usual, Bennett never fails to amuse and no other reader could read it as well as Bennett himself with his low key throw away style. Would make an ideal Christmas or birthday present.
While listening to 'The Greening of Mrs Donaldson' walking down the road, I almost fell off the pavement I was laughing so much - and I certainly got some strange looks.
Such good entertainment - a lovely pair of unlikely stories, superb narration (as one always expects from Mr Bennett), great characters. My only regret is that there were only two of them!
"Alan Bennett by numbers."
Although subtitled Two Unseemly Stories, perhaps only Bennett's most prudish fans would find either The Greening of Mrs Donaldson or The Shielding of Mrs Forbes offensive. Perhaps more accurately, what the two stories share is that in neither case are surface appearances, in fact, what they seem.
Whilst enjoyable, I couldn't help the feeling that Smut was Alan Bennett by numbers: middle aged repressed ladies and their frightfully British take on propriety and marital relations being challenged. Its saving grace is, of course, that Bennett relates these stories himself, and surely there is noone better at reading his own work.
"Good value smut"
If these 2 stories had been read by anyone other than Alan Bennett, they might just have been vulgar. But because he reads them, they manage to be both vulgar and funny. Very sly, too. I love everything he's ever written and narrated, and I did enjoy these stories though not quite as much as the genius of older (and longer) works. They aren't shocking, but they do venture into territory that I'd prefer not to listen to with my 14 year old in the room with me! A lovely treat listen, and I will listen again because as always, it's the details that make his work so enjoyable.
Both stories are great fun from start to finish and are the apotheosis of his front parlour hanky-panky delivered with a sure touch for the turn of phrase and twitch of net.
There are some great set-pieces, particularly a visit to a police station - “there’s coffee on the go, but you’ve just missed the croissants” and a strategically placed mobile phone.
Maybe it all fits together a little bit too snugly at the end, all the tops flattened and the corners tucked in - but ooh, I don’t know you can’t complain can you, I mean, two stories for the price of one........and wasn’t Alan thoughtful to read it to us as well, though I hear he’s not got that much else on at the moment, so he probably had a little bit of time on his hands and thought he might put it to good use. He always was a thoughtful boy...
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