Thursday, 21 March 2013

Father! Father! Burning Bright - Alan Bennett (Book Review)

I bought this book via eBay on a whim, having already purchased 'The Lady in the Van' - which I've yet to read but will post about soon! I've been a bit of a dilettante when it comes to Alan Bennett. The History Boys is one of my favourite films and the play really hit home with its portrayal of education fostering the ideal of learning for the sake of (and only for the sake of) passing exams; but I've actually yet to really delve into his exhaustive works.

alan bennett, alan bennett father father burning bright, father father burning bright book review
I've been pretty swamped with Uni work of late  - my final year project deadline loomed over me this week, and so whenever I needed some light relief, I whizzed through 'Father! Father! Burning Bright!' It really helped that this book was so dinky for being pocket-sized amongst hefty textbooks and the two packed lunches I had equipped myself with for the day's library session!

Midgley is a schoolteacher, facing the inevitability of his father's impending death and the frustration of him not actually.. well dying.

 I won't say much as this is such a short read, and anything else would be an unnecessary irritation of a spoiler. I will say that Bennett's infamous and expert handle on satire is unapologetic, stark and completely funny. I found myself stifling a small laugh every time I realised how blatantly Bennett calls people out on their prejudices, however harmless and benign.
Adapted from the TV film "Intensive Care" (starring Alan Bennett), the story moves swiftly from one scene to the next - and without warning, much like as if you were watching it on television itself.

It's rare that I find a book which will strike me as funny (in that I would actually laugh aloud), with 'Submarine' being the strongest contender (a recommended read!). This has prompted me to read more from Bennett - and possibly re-watch The History Boys. (Exam-time is approaching fast after all!) I've been wanting to read "The Uncommon Reader" for a good while now, though the ever increasing height of my "To Read" pile is warning me otherwise!

Are you an Alan Bennett fan? What are your recommendations?

Here is the first of 9 parts to BBC 2's "Intensive Care" via YouTube. (Link active at time of posting).


  1. gorgeous style, adoring your blog miss!
    would love to see you wearing casper&pearl one day!

    lots of love from the c&p girls,
    casper&pearl blog

  2. I have to admit to not really reading / seeing much of Alan Bennett's stuff - although the History Boys is a firm favourite of mine; I really should read more of his stuff - I've only ever heard good things! Thanks for sharing, Louise x