An Education by Lynn Barber
|An Education by Lynn Barber|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Candid, honest, poignant and if you are prone to snorting with laughter you probably ought to read this in private. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 192||Date: June 2009|
Lynn Barber comes from the lower, unremembered, orders on both sides. There is no ancestral home or village – just parents who were determined that she should work hard and make something of herself. Well, they were – until Simon proposed and it was explained to her that Oxford didn't really matter, that being married to a good man would be more important. Simon was much older – older in fact than he would admit to – and he picked Lynn up (quite literally) at a bus stop when she was just sixteen. Surprisingly her parents were unworried by this and threw them together, despite the fact that Simon, who was in the property business, had some strange friends. In the nineteen fifties it wasn't every sixteen year old girl who had a passing acquaintance with the evil slum landlord, Peter Rachman.
Realising that her parents were prepared to sacrifice her wishes to get her married off, Lynn began to make her own decisions about what she would do. Oxford was not the breeze that she expected it to be as, for the first time she was up against who were a great deal cleverer than her. She married after leaving and went on to work on Penthouse, write books such as How To Improve Your Man In Bed and then to write for the Express and latterly The Observer.
I'd had one of those weekends when just about everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. At the end of my tether I looked at the pile of books waiting for attention and picked the one I really wanted to read. I'd read the opening piece of An Education in Granta magazine, but it was a delight to read again and I finished the rest of the book in one wonderful sitting.
It's candid. It was so refreshing to read about the sixties, which might have been considered 'swinging' but were actually sexually repressed for the majority of women. A woman's greatest asset was still thought to be her virginity and the thought of a child being born out of wedlock was probably the greatest shame that a family could encounter. Girls who did didn't talk about it and it was refreshing to read a candid account of what it was really like.
It's very funny – to the point where you might wish to consider whether or not you should read this in public. In places I was snorting with laughter – and I do mean snorting. Within pages I had tears running down my face. The death of her husband David is told without any sentimentality and was so much more touching because of that.
The honesty shines through – the doubts she had about her marriage, about her own actions are candidly told. There's nothing self-serving or defensive about the book and it's refreshingly free of the whiney sound of old scores being settled. The axe-grinding alleviates the dullness of many other memoirs but there's inevitably a nasty after-taste. An Education manages to be entertaining, illuminating and leaves a sense of real pleasure in the reading.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
For stories from a contemporary of Lynn Barber's you might like to read Grumpy Old Rock Star by Rick Wakeman.
You can read more book reviews or buy An Education by Lynn Barber at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy An Education by Lynn Barber at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.