Unexpected tales from the master of short fiction
The Shielding of Mrs ForbesGraham Forbes is a disappointment to his mother, who thinks that if he must have a wife, he should have done better. Though 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.The Greening of Mrs DonaldsonMrs 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 ...
Alan Bennett is one of the UK's most celebrated literary figures. He is the author ofUntold Stories, and numerous works of fiction includingThe Uncommon Reader. His playThe History Boyswas the National Theatre's most successful production ever.
'Beautiful and filthy', Simon Hattenstone, Guardian
'Amusingly peculiar ... tender and comic ... joyous anarchism ... It is good, old-fashioned British humour with the lightest of subversive twists', Arifa Akbar, Independent
'Artfully entertaining ... The stories have a dark, knowing shrewdness about erotic mischief, young and old ... As always the writing is tonally perfect, laced with deadpan as well as bedpan comedy', Simon Schama, FT
'Smutoffers plenty of Bennett's trademark pleasures ... consistently amusing and full of witty turns of phrase', Sarah Churchwell, Guardian
'All Bennett's work seems to me a dreamy evocation of an imaginary world in which he'd like to dwell, full of jokes and queerness. These days, he seems to be getting steadily smuttier, ever more disinhibited. But more strength to his elbow, I say.', David Sexton, Evening Standard
'Marinated in subtleties. He's never as simple as he likes to appear ... That peculiarly British maladroitness - the perennial blush, wince and averted eye - and how adroitly it is grappled with, can make for great storytelling', John Sutherland, The Times
'Hilarious', The Times
'In these two stories he applies his elegant literary gifts to his territory with the unabashed glee of one watching Benny Hill getting it on with Anita Brookner ... Bennett's talent for the honed quip is securely in place', Adam Lively, Sunday Times
'Unmitigated delight', Christina Hardyment, The Times
'Alan Bennett continues to surprise and delight', John Banville, Sunday Telegraph
'You can always rely on Alan Bennett to capture the intricate nuances of English Life and his latest offering is no exception', Good Housekeeping
'Frank, funny and entertaining', Financial Times
'A marvellous little book, small enough to put in a jacket pocket and so delightful that you'll want to keep taking it out again ... Part of the pleasure here is the unexpected mis-match between respectability and unseemly behaviour, but there's much more to it than that. These novellas are good enough to re-read and enjoy even when the events are no longer unexpected, and the reason is Bennett's sweet, easy prose. There is no sense of effort at all here. It's like watching an expert dancer dance, or an expert ice-skater skate. He just knows how to do it, and that's that', Independent on Sunday