One of England’s finest and most loved writers explores the uncomfortable and tragicomic gap between people’s public appearance and their private desires in two tender and surprising stories.
In The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson, a recently bereaved widow finds interesting ways to supplement her income by performing as a patient for medical students, and renting out her spare room. Quiet, middle-class, and middle-aged, Mrs. Donaldson will soon discover that she rather enjoys role-play at the hospital, and the irregular and startling entertainment provided by her tenants.
In The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes, a disappointed middle-aged mother dotes on her only son, Graham, who believes he must shield her from the truth. As Graham’s double life becomes increasingly complicated, we realize how little he understands, not only of his own desires but also those of his mother.
3.5 stars rounded up to 4 because I’ve always wanted to say that I was reading smut.
My only familiarity with Alan Bennett’s work was seeing the film The Lady in the Van, which amused me greatly. These two pieces of short fiction, The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson and The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes, were also amusing in a somewhat different way. The author admits to using the title Smut to forestall the critics who were likely to label it as such.
Truly not very smutty, these stories are more meditations on our social hang-ups about sexuality and our reluctance to talk honestly about it. I must say that I preferred Mrs. Donaldson because I could relate to her more easily that Mrs. Forbes. I enjoyed how she took two moneymaking propositions and found ways to make them more fun & interesting while also being able to annoy her rather judgmental daughter. Mrs. Forbes, on the other hand, would probably have gotten along with Mrs. Donaldson’s daughter.
Not much to say about this one other than that it was a bit of a disappointment:
The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson, I have no doubt, was penned to shock more than it was penned to incite thoughts about the perception of quiet, middle-class, older ladies. But Bennett's taking apart of assumptions about quiet older ladies was the much funnier than the completely implausible plot twist. The only time I got a giggle out of this story was at the very end when Mrs Donaldson turns down a proposition because she's not finished reading the chapter in her current book, yet.
The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes, was weird but thankfully it was also instantly forgettable.
Audiobook- Narration 4.5 stars very well read
It was hot steamy smutty rock star sex almost all the time. Some set my body into flames some had me cringing. I swear I felt bull legged after several scenes. There is something for nearly every sexual taste bud on this tour bus of lust. Great sex ed read.
I really liked the story, but there was so little of it. I got to know their bodies, their desires and their fantasies more than I got to know them. I'm a character reader and missed that connection. I do like the way this author developed her characters. Will I continue the series ? I don't think so right now but....
Amanda Very smart, driven and a little judgy.
It started off slow for me. I understand we were learning backstory but I almost didn’t make it through it. I’m glad I stuck it out though. I did laugh and there was some unconventional romance. However Amanda and Blake's story was very predictable.
The Random Thoughts:
Why Benedict Cumberbatch?
The Score Card: