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The Clothes They Stood Up In by Alan Bennett

The Clothes They Stood Up In (1996)

by Alan Bennett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6102524,885 (3.43)41
The Clothes They Stood Up In is Alan Bennett's first story. Like Charles Dickens' novels which were first published in magazines, it originally appeared in the London Review of Books - which the author says 'seems to me (and not just because I occasionally contribute to it) the liveliest, most serious and also the most radical literary periodical we have'.… (more)

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» See also 41 mentions

English (23)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
A charmer, and very funny. ( )
  JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (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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