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Smut: two unseemly stories by Alan Bennett

Smut: two unseemly stories

by Alan Bennett

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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Funny book. It is two short stories, both about middle aged women in circumstances or situations that, in former times may have been regarded primly as smutty, something which this book is not. It is witty and clever, light hearted, and gently pokes fun at society's preoccupations with "how things look".

[from 'The Shielding of Mrs Forbes'] “In the years since he was born her sights had risen and Graham was not nearly the classy name she’d once thought. She wished now that she could get rid of it as she had got rid of the dark oak dining suite that belonged to the same period. But though car-boot sales exist to dispose of discarded aspirations there are no stalls dealing in our most unwanted commodities like names, relatives or one’s own appearance in the glass.” ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
Very enjoyable. Two long stories, neither deep nor stupid. ( )
  ChrisNewton | Mar 18, 2016 |
Just a few days after starting this book, I heard a caller on a podcast introduce himself as someone who has the same job as one of Bennett's main characters: someone who pretends to be a patient for doctors to practice on. A few days *before* starting this book, I'd never even heard of such work; in fact, when I started "Smut," I wondered whether Bennett had made the whole idea up.

So far the writing is funny and the story is engagingly bizarre. Interested to see where things go from here.

--Just finished. It's two novellas, both brilliant. I was worried that the second would be unpleasant, one of those works where the author seems to take pleasure in telling the story of entirely unlikable people. Not the case at all. The characters *should* be unlikable; instead, they're endearing (at least I found them so). And Bennett's use of the language is reliably wonderful. "She wasn't wholly infatuated, though she liked the way he looked; but, so too did he and that unfatuated her a bit." I will never be less than infatuated with this book. ( )
  Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
The Greening of Mrs Donaldson - 1 star
The Shielding of Mrs Forbes - 3 stars

I started reading this book a few months back and quit about 10 pages in because the first story was so bad, but I picked it up again for a 50 Books Challenge. The second story was much better, but still not that good. ( )
  DanielleMD | Jun 20, 2015 |
Although Bennett's two "unseemly" stories involve sex, his portrayal has a down to earth quality that avoids indecency or eroticism. At the same time they are generously laced with humour that is tinged with a poignant element. Bennett's writing is never blatantly obvious, but rather it weaves many emotions that beautifully reflect reality. I enjoyed The Uncommon Reader more, but as usual, Bennett has created a thought-provoking work with subtle undertones. ( )
1 vote VivienneR | Jun 19, 2015 |
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"I gather you're my wife," said the man in the waiting room.
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This title includes unexpected tales from the master of short fiction. "The Shielding of Mrs Forbes" - Graham Forbes is a disappointment to his mother who thinks that if he must have a wife, he should have done better. And her own husband would be better if she were mourning him than living with him. But this is Alan Bennett, so no matter the importance of keeping up appearances, what is happening in the bedroom (and in lots of other places too) is altogether more startling, perhaps shocking, and ultimately much more honest to people's predilections. "The Greening of Mrs Donaldson" - Mrs Donaldson is a conventional middle-class woman beached on the shores of widowhood after a marriage that had been much like many others: happy to begin with, then satisfactory and finally dull. But when she decides to take in two lodgers (a young, broke couple) passions that she never knew existed are aroused, and her mundane life becomes much more stimulating...
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Presents two short tales of sex, secrets, and misrepresentation, including "The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson," in which a widow supplements her income by being a test subject for medical students.

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