"Spectacles" is Sue Perkins' first foray into the literary world. Being a keen reader of biographies, and a huge fan of Ms Perkins, I was naturally compelled to read her work.
Perkins openly admits to having desires to write from a young age. One could argue that her humour is a form of writing (assuming she makes notes!). It seems an interesting risk to jump into the world of the written word with 'a memoir', as the book sub-title proclaims.
For most readers an autobiography hopefully offers a window into the life and soul of the author. Most who read this style of book are probably a fan, or at least an interested observer. The author does however run the risk of delivering a book which will alienate or repulse the reader.
Rather than focus on too many specific events in the book I thought an overall view would be more interesting.
Spectacles is interesting, humours, and honest (I believe). Perkins discusses her early life, her family, her transition from child to adult -- including all that entails -- and her career highs and lows. She does admit in the opening pages that some names are changed to protect people, and there's embellishment for humour.
The story doesn't always flow; it does work as a timeline but people and experiences are suddenly introduced with little explanation. There's elements of her life which are glossed over: we have a love interested in a boy, then off, then on, then suddenly her attention is on a woman. The transition escapes the book.
We tend to remember someone's more recent work, in Perkins' case it's the Great British Bake Off (five years worth). Yet, the book glosses over this career defining moment, but settles down on a drive-by documentary series. Whereas the Bake Off receives a few pages, the antics of an Asia journey received more pages than a village phone book.
Personally I believe Ms Perkins was not ready for her memoirs, I think she could have been more usefully challenged to put out a decent bit of fiction. She tries too hard with the humour in this biography. There's also a fine line between self obsession and selflessness; occasionally I started to disconnect from her personality.
In summary, I'm still a great fan of Sue Perkins, her wit and intelligence. I'm living in hope she is able to write the book that is really inside her.
'Spectacles - a memoir' is available in all good, local bookshops and online.
Spectacles - a memoir. Sue Perkins
Publisher: Michael Joseph (8 Oct. 2015)
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