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The Clothes They Stood Up In by Alan Bennett

The Clothes They Stood Up In (1996)

by Alan Bennett

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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
An amusing tale that begins with a couple returning from the opera to find that everything in their apartment has been burgled - right down to the toilet paper and holder. This mystery is later explained but finding themselves without the objects by which they've defined themselves leads them along a different path. The ending was a tad strange. The book takes about 30 minutes to read, an hour at most if you read more slowly. ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |

Well this was an interesting book and an interesting perspective of looking at a stodgy life with the opportunity to break out into fullness.

Mr. & Mrs Ransome go out for an evening of Opera and upon returning to their home find that they have been burgled..... Their home is completely empty, not even a box of tissue remains...... Thus begins Mrs Ransome's awakening to life.... She begins venturing out to the local grocer & shops to purchase food and basic household items... She even purchases a t.v. and begins to watch daytime t.v. Meanwhile her husband continues with his stodgy existence as a solicitor......

One day a retrieval slip from a storage company arrives and they journey to the storage site to find all of their belongings set up in a storage unit in the same exact manner as that in their flat. There is a young couple there living in the set up.... The Ransomes then retrieve their belongings and set about their life as it had once been, with the exception of on guilty secret... that they both share apart from each other......

This was a very interesting story with a very odd twist. Throughout the story I was cheering for Mrs Ransome to break out of her dull existence.... Mr Ransome kept to his stodgy ways until the end. ( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Jan 18, 2016 |
I never read anything of Alan Bennett's that I didn't like. His THE CLOTHES THEY STOOD IN is a brief readable novel about a couple who comes home from the opera to find their apartment stripped bare. It is exciting through the denouement but fails after that. A fan should read this short novel. ( )
  SigmundFraud | Aug 18, 2015 |
very interesting but odd book

everything they owned in their flat was stolen one evening while they attended an opera. feelings, thoughts and ideas insued, mostly on the part of Mrs. Ransome; Mr. Ransome, not so much...

I'd give the characterizations a full 5 stars! ( )
  CC123 | Aug 10, 2015 |
Loved "Smut" so much, grabbed this from the library to read next. Short novels suit my currently short attention span.

Finished reading this in a day I didn't have much time to read, so there you go. There's no one like Alan Bennett. I wish he weren't so successful as a playwright, so he'd be forced to write lots more lovely, occasionally naughty novellas like this one. Also, it's lovely to read a male author who apparently has lots of tender, humorous sympathy for middle-aged women. ( )
  Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
What would you do if you lost, at one fell swoop, every one of your possessions? What if a thief were to come in and take not only your television and your jewelry but your dirty dishes, your underwear, your light bulbs, even your toilet paper? This is what happens to Mr. and Mrs. Ransome, the bourgeois, habit-bound couple in Alan Bennett's sharp new novella, THE CLOTHES THEY STOOD UP IN (Random House, $14.95).

It comes as quite a shock to them to discover just how much their lives have been controlled and defined by their objects, and when they are suddenly relieved of them the couple's reactions expose the irreconcilable differences in their characters: Mr. Ransome rigidly carries on as though nothing has changed, while his wife begins to feel rebellious twinges of -- dare she admit it? -- freedom and adventure. But then their paraphernalia is restored to them as mysteriously as it was taken away, and ''life returned to what Mrs. Ransome used to think of as normal but didn't now, quite.'' Their marriage, and they themselves, have subtly changed.

"The Clothes They Stood Up In'' was a best seller in Britain, where Bennett, the author of the plays ''Habeas Corpus,'' ''Forty Years On,'' ''The Madness of George III'' and countless other films and television shows, is rightly thought of as a national treasure. The book will probably not do quite so well here, for the traits personified by the Ransomes -- emotional constipation on the husband's part, an almost pathological diffidence on the wife's -- are English vices and not American ones. (Our own run on quite different lines.) But it is a witty, dark piece of work, a happy evening's read and a tantalizing mental challenge to those of us who, like the Ransomes, find their lives encumbered and their senses blunted by too much stuff.
added by PLReader | editNY Times, Brooke Allen (Feb 4, 2001)

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alan Bennettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Arborio Mella, GiuliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Letizia, Claudia ValeriaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Ransomes had been burgled.
Mrs Ransome ventured into Mr Anwar's. She passed the shop many times as it was midway between the flats and St John's Wood High Street; indeed she remembered it opening and the little draper's and babies' knitwear shop which it had replaced and where she had been a loyal customer. That had been kept by a Miss Dorsey, from whom over the years she had bought the occasional tray cloth or hank of Sylko but, on a much more regular basis, plain brown paper packets of what in those days were called towels. The closing-down of the shop in the late Sixties bad left Mrs Ransome anxious and unprotected and it came as a genuine surprise on venturing into Timothy White's to find that technology in this intimate department had lately made great strides which were unreflected in Miss Dorsey's ancient stock, of which Mrs Ransome, as the last of a dwindling clientele, had been almost the sole consumer.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375503064, Hardcover)

The Ransomes had been burgled. "Robbed," Mrs. Ransome said. "Burgled," Mr. Ransome corrected. Premises were burgled; persons were robbed. Mr. Ransome was a solicitor by profession and thought words mattered. Though "burgled" was the wrong word too. Burglars select; they pick; they remove one item and ignore others. There is a limit to what burglars can take: they seldom take easy chairs, for example, and even more seldom settees. These burglars did. They took everything.

This swift-moving comic fable will surprise you with its concealed depths. When the sedate Ransomes return from the opera to find their Notting Hill flat stripped absolutely bare—down to the toilet paper off the roll (a hard-to-find shade of forget-me-not blue)—they face a dilemma: Who are they without the things they've spent a lifetime accumulating? Suddenly the world is full of unlimited and frightening possibility. But just as they begin adjusting to this giddy freedom, a newfound interest in sex, and a lack of comfy chairs, a surreal reversal of events causes them to question their assumptions yet again.

The Ransomes' bafflement is the reader's delight. Alan Bennett's gentle but scathing wit, unerring ear for dialogue, and sense of the absurd make The Clothes They Stood Up In a memorable exploration of where in life true riches lie.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:04 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The Ransomes have been burgled, cleaned out. And for the stuffy solicitor and his downtrodden wife it marks a turning point, a kind of liberation. Nothing will ever be quite the same.

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