Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
“Most of this book is true.”
Spectacles is the hilarious, creative and incredibly moving memoir from much loved comedian, writer and presenter Sue Perkins.
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.
Praise for Spectacles
‘Drama, tears and laughs – Spectacles has got it all. A brilliant, touching memoir suffused with love, it reminds you that life is best lived at wonky angles. I ADORED it’ Jessie Burton, bestselling author of The Miniaturist
‘Very funny . . . It seems there are two Sue Perkins: the TV one, who gabbles and pratfalls, and the sensitive one who aches. The first of course, exists to protect the second. They can both write. The first writes comedy, the second tragedy; in this sense, reading her memoir is very like meeting her’
‘It’s a proper book . . . so well written. Tight & bright & full of inspiration’
Chris Evans, Radio 2
Sue Perkins is one of those people who I like watching on TV, but don’t get to watch very often. Mostly I see her on The Great British Bake Off, and think that herself and Mel are the best bit. It’s sad that they are leaving the show due to its move to Channel Four, but I guess that makes the release of her memoir all the more significant.
This book was firstly a cover buy, and secondly a curiosity buy. I remember reading ages ago that Sue had been engaged to a man, before coming out as gay. This immediately interests me, and is one of a few things that factored into my decision to read this book. The way she tells her coming out story is very funny, but also extremely heartwarming. That’s what this book is like, it’s a roller-coaster of emotions at the same time as being funny. It made me laugh more than once, and at one point I was on the verge of tears and had to force myself to stop reading at the end of the chapter because I didn’t want to cry!
The best thing about this memoir is that from the start, we are introduced to her family, particularly her parents. They feature quite heavily throughout the book, and I love them! If this was fiction, I’d say her parents are my favourite characters. From what she writes, they are brilliant, and I loved each time they were written about. The transcripts of their conversations are pure comedy.
I think I can tell when Sue has altered something to be funnier, or to have a classic ‘punchline’, but I don’t mind, because she does it well and it is actually enough to make me laugh. Her style of writing is easy to read, but is well-written. She’s a great storyteller, and I’d happily sit and read/listen to any number of anecdotes.
My favourite chapter was by far the one about GBBO. It was like watching an episode of it, but with all the best Mel and Sue moments all rolled into one hilarious show-stopping bake of a chapter.
Whether you’re a fan of Sue or not, if you read this book you’ll get to know her a lot more. This memoir is personal, as it should be. It’s full of emotion, but also laughter and good times. As celebrity memoirs go, this is a brilliant one and is very genuine.
Oh, and the ending is brilliant…but the after-pages are even better!
Link to the book on Goodreads:
Originally posted on my book and magazine review blog: advocateofbooks.wordpress.com