Little did I know, when I picked Sue Perkins’ memoir up in a charity shop a month ago, just how topical it would be to feature this book now! 4 stars.
The blurb: When I began writing this book, I went home to see if my mum had kept some of my stuff. What I found was that she hadn’t kept some of it. She had kept all of it – every bus ticket, postcard, school report – from the moment I was born to the moment I finally had the confidence to turn round and say ‘Why is our house full of this shit?’
Sadly, a recycling ‘incident’ destroyed the bulk of this archive. This has meant two things: firstly, Dear Reader, you will never get to see countless drawings of wizards, read a poem about corn on the cob, or marvel at the kilos of brown flowers I so lovingly pressed as a child. Secondly, it’s left me with no choice but to actually write this thing myself.
This, my first ever book, will answer questions such as ‘Is Mary Berry real?’, ‘Is it true you wear a surgical truss?’ and ‘Is a non-spherically symmetric gravitational pull from outside the observable universe responsible for some of the observed motion of large objects such as galactic clusters in the universe?’
Most of this book is true. I have, of course, amplified my more positive characteristics in an effort to make you like me.
Thank you for reading.
For those of you who don’t live in the UK or haven’t come across shows like The Great British Bake Off, Sue Perkins is a TV presenter and one half of a comedy double act with her best friend Melanie Giedroyc. Their style of comedy is witty, whimsical and sometimes a little offbeat. And if you know who Sue Perkins is and find her funny at all, you’ll enjoy reading Spectacles.
I expected this book to be funny; but I was expecting chuckles or the odd smirk. I wasn’t expecting to nearly choke because I was laughing so hard and have to put the book down to wheeze myself back from the brink of passing out. The funniest passages were nearly all of those in which she described incidents involving her family, particularly her parents. You quickly see where she got her gift for comedy from and why she’s so good at dealing with perhaps the more eccentric contestants on Bake Off.
Her tone is as frank as you’d expect and when she recounts events which don’t put her in a good light, she doesn’t try to shirk responsibility for her actions and takes the opportunity to make apologies.
But, for all the more serious moments in her story, this book leaves you with a good feeling. It’s interesting, easy to read, funny and has just enough inside dirt on Bake Off to keep fans of the show happy.
Oh, and if you like dogs, you’ll like this as well. There’s a lot of love for dogs here. And the stories involving them are funny (and a bit sad too, but mostly funny).
Overall: if you find the Sue Perkins you’ve seen on TV likeable and amusing, this is a memoir you’ll enjoy!
Claire Huston / Art and Soul