Life, Love and the Archers by Wendy Cope

From TheBookbag
Jump to: navigation, search

Life, Love and the Archers by Wendy Cope

Buy Life, Love and the Archers by Wendy Cope at or

Category: Autobiography
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A collection of essays, reviews and other short pieces (but only three poems) presented in a broadly autobiographical format. It's brilliantly easy reading and highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: November 2014
Publisher: Two Roads
ISBN: 978-1444795363

Share on: Delicious Digg Facebook Reddit Stumbleupon Follow us on Twitter

As a rule, poetry does not appeal to me - at school it was something to be learned and recited, regardless of merit or meaning and I came to dread those lessons - but there are two exceptions. I love John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel for its irreverence - and Wendy Cope, because she speaks to me in words I can understand about matters which concern me. I discovered her when my daughter gave me a copy of Serious Concerns and her humorous poems tempted me to read some of the more serious content. I was smitten. Over the years I've followed with interest what she has had to say about such matters as copyright and the chance to review Life, Love and the Archers was far too tempting to miss.

The book came about in a rather unusual way: Cope was moving house (from tied accommodation) so sold her archive to the British Library. It contained manuscripts, emails, poetry notebooks and unpublished poems - a gold mine, as her editor discovered when she went searching and thus the idea of this book was born. It's arranged so that it reads as an autobiography, beginning with her memories of the first time she read a book by herself and going through to the final piece about how she came to be a fan of The Archers. (I can't agree with her about Jill Archer but she's spot on about Ruth and Shula!) I loved the pieces about herself and her family - Cope is one of those people who has been in the public eye, but isn't well-known. It was a real pleasure to find out more about the woman behind the name.

The best poets never waste words: every one has to earn their keep and this is a large part of what makes this book such a pleasure to read. The writing is crisp and to the point, eloquent but not flowery. Cope never patronises her readers: she trusts them to understand, to think about what she is saying: the pieces are thought-provoking and genuinely relevant in today's world. I particularly enjoyed her reviews (she was the television critic for The Spectator until 1990, but was sacked because she wasn't nasty enough!) and fervently wished that I could ever be a tenth as good as her. In truth she wasn't judgemental (that sounds better than nasty doesn't it?) but what she had to say allows you to draw your own conclusions - and feel happy about them.

I read the book straight through but it is arranged so that you could dip in and out to read themed sections or even individual pieces. Each individual essay is complete in itself. It's perfect to have at the side of the bed - although I must warn you that it's not a cure for insomnia but suffers from 'just another chapter and then I'll put it down' syndrome. My copy will live in the car - it's ideal for when you're waiting to pick someone up and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals the we think that you'll also enjoy Untold Stories by Alan Bennett.

Buy Life, Love and the Archers by Wendy Cope at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Life, Love and the Archers by Wendy Cope at

Buy Life, Love and the Archers by Wendy Cope at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Life, Love and the Archers by Wendy Cope at


Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.