I love Sue Perkins and yet, somehow, I managed to remain unaware that she had written a book for ALMOST A YEAR. Now, I am always behind on popular music, TV shows and movies – always and by at least a year or two – but I spend half my life in bookstores, browsing the recently released sections. How did I miss this? The day that I learnt about the existence of “Spectacles”, I knew that I had to get my hands on it. I must admit, though, that I wasn’t sure whether I would love it.
I always approach memoirs with a little trepidation. Just because someone is a great actor, comedian, singer etc. doesn’t mean that they can write, I am sorry to say. However, I think that I may be moving into the age of the memoir. My book wishlist is inundated with them because there are just so many interesting people writing books right now and Sue Perkins has managed to restore my faith in the writing ability of celebrities. I finished her book in 24 hours – a very happy 24 hours.
Here’s what made me fall in love with it:
- It’s funny but not in your face funny
The best way I can describe the humour in the book is sweet and gentle. It will make you smile and feel all warm and happy but it is definitely not trying too hard to be a comedy book. You know those types of books that are just trying so, so hard to make you laugh and it’s just not working? This book couldn’t be further from that.
- Sue’s voice is 110% present throughout
This book feels like you and Sue Perkins sat down for a chat and she’s telling you her favorite stories from her life. The book is so natural that you can practically hear Sue’s voice as you read. Not a single moment of the book felt put on to me; it just felt honest
- Sue seems so genuinely normal and nice
In the beginning of the book, where Sue is talking about how the book came about and what sort of thing she wanted to write, she describes it as “Mid range. Comfy. The sort of book that turns up to a meeting covered in mud and shit not having changed into something more appropriate. Something a little more me.”
That pretty much sums up the vibe of the book. Unpretentious. Genuine. Not a Hollywood epic about fame and fortune but a real life with real – and relatable – highs and lows.
- Sexuality is treated as no big deal
I did wonder how Sue would handle the topic of sexuality. It was obviously going to come up if she was going to talk about her partners and, lets face it, it’s an interesting topic. I found her take so refreshing. It is treated as just no big deal – as it should be. That is not to say that she didn’t have her challenges (she talks openly about having to repeatedly come out to her grandmother – who is losing her memory – and eventually just telling her that she was straight and married the last time she ever saw her, out of love) but she doesn’t dwell on it. She talks about old boyfriends, she talks about past and present girlfriends, she doesn’t feel the need to explain herself. She is who she is and she is honest and unapologetic about it. It is just no big deal.
- On that note, she talks about finding men attractive
She writes about being immediately attracted to her first boyfriend. She mentions men that she thinks are good looking. It’s a minor point but it certainly dispels the myth that gay women find men repulsive and reminds us that sexuality is nuanced.
- There are moments of incredibly touching, poetic writing
There are moments where the writing was just so good that I had to stop and re-read the sentence/paragraph over again. Sue convey’s emotion so well (read the part where she talks about a particularly heartbreaking break-up – it will make you want to cry) and there are moments of genuine insight that will make you sit up and go “yes!”
- She loves dogs – and she gets how much dog owners love dogs
I adore my dogs and Sue’s writing on her own dogs and how infuriating but lovable they can be made perfect sense to me. We can all relate to the attachments we form to animals because we’ve all been there.
- My favourite quote:
“I think that night was perhaps the first time I had to contend with the painful reality of being a grown up – the messy, unarticulated feelings that stay with you forever without finding resolution. You just live with this unnamed weird stuff. We all do.”
This book is genuine. It is sweet. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. In my opinion, it is everything a perfect lazy Sunday read should be.