Friday, 6 November 2020

NetGalley November: Let's Do It

My first NetGalley November write-up and it’s something a little left-field for me - a biography -, but when I saw this on NetGalley a fortnight ago, I knew I had to request from the publisher and hope that they would be kind and allow me to listen to it for review. Once I was approved (thank you UK publisher of Trapeze), I started almost immediately!

There is a slight problem with doing reviews or write-ups about biographies and autobiographies, and that is how to rate them. When you rate a book, you got with the writing and the story. But with a biography or an autobiography, people sometimes look at how you rate it or review it and say you’re attacking the subject of the autobiography or biography, and that’s not the case.

Most people, I found, only read a biography or autobiography if they know already that they are going to like the subject and it’s only if something really big happens that changes the person’s mind. So, going into this biography of the late great comedian of Victoria Wood, I knew I was going to like it. I mean, I grew up watching dinnerladies and watching repeats of As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques and Housewife, 49. I remember dragging my mum to see Acorn Antiques: The Musical up in London so I knew, going into this, that I was going to find this fascinating and insightful

Oh, hang on. I need to do the info block and affiliate links before I go on. Hang on!

Title And Author: Let’s Do It: The Authorised Biography of Victoria Wood by Jasper Rees
Publisher: Trapeze
Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/write-up.
Length: 592 Pages or 20 Hours 56 Minutes

The thing I found really interesting about Victoria’s life while listening to this audiobook was how, at times, Victoria came across as egocentric (actors who work with her on her shows say that you would have to be word perfect with her scripts. You couldn’t say “can’t” if the script says “can not”). Because of this, she comes across as hard to work with and harder to please, though we are told multiply times, though she worked incredibly hard, she was incredibly shy and vulnerable and that could be due to how she grew up.

The audiobook reading was a joy as you had several narrators, each involved in Victoria’s work: Anne Reid, Celia Imrie, Daniel Rigby, David Threlfall, Duncan Preston, Jane Wymark, Julie Walters, Kate Robbins, Richenda Carey, Susie Blake and the author, Jasper Rees (who read the opening and closing chapter). I found the penultimate chapter, read by Anne Reid, very moving and I praise her for this as I sense it must have been a hard chapter to read. Plus, having these people read each chapter gave a much more personal feel. It’s as if you were with friends and they each were telling a story. “Do you remember the time when…”

I do understand some of you guys complains over the length. Believe me, even I was surprised when I was first approved and started listening, expecting it to be around 10 or 12 hours and seeing it was nearly 21. And I do understand of you guys saying “I wish the name-dropping would be less and we saw more of Victoria. Her work and her personal life” and, up to a point, I do agree with you. I do wish some aspects of the book was focused on less and others more, but I think that’s because I am a bit of a nosy so&so, but I understand why some aspects of her life were looked over less than others as Victoria’s children, former husband and family members are still alive and we need to respect their privacy.

I liked listening to this and found it really interesting and engrossing, but I get some fans of Victoria Wood might find this tarnish their memory of Victoria and her works so if you are a fan of her work, I would advise you to think long and hard before going in as, while her works are hilarious, we have to remember she was human and did have flaws.

I am hoping to rewatch dinnerladies in the future (once I finish rewatching The Blacklist), so I am going to pop a few of her best sketches below. Happy viewing!

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