Book Review: The Lady in the Van

The Lady in the VanThe Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I finished this book on 29 July 2018.

The blurb: In 1974, the homeless Miss Shepherd moved her broken down van into Alan Bennett’s garden. Deeply eccentric and stubborn to her bones, Miss Shepherd was not an easy tenant. And Bennett, despite inviting her in the first place, was a reluctant landlord. And yet she lived there for fifteen years.

This account of those years was first published in 1989 in the London Review of Books. The play premiered in 1999, directed by Nicholas Hytner and starring Dame Maggie Smith, who reprise their roles in this new film adaptation. Shot on location at Bennett’s house, Alex Jennings plays the author, alongside household names including Frances de la Tour, Jim Broadbent and Dominic Cooper.

My review: I read this book in two short sittings. It’s only about 100 pages long. And I believe this is the reason for my following comment. I expected more than I got.

I expected humour and heartbreak. I wanted both. Unfortunately, for me, the story was lacking emotion. Having said that, the author states that the entries are taken from his diary. Thing is, it reads just like that. There’s no depth. No proper dialogue. And because of that, I didn’t form the connection I would have like.

I believe there could have been more substance and for me, that would have made a huge difference to my reactions to what happened in the story. It’s a pity, because I feel this book could have been quite different. Quite moving. It could have left me sobbing my heart heart. But it didn’t.

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