England · review

SMUT: TWO UNSEEMLY STORIES by Alan Bennett

I haven’t read much by Alan Bennett.  I read The Uncommon Reader, which was sort of a comedy piece about the Queen of England becoming an avid reader, and I watched the film version of The History Boys.  This collection of paired stories, Smut ,fits with what I know of Bennett:  the stories are funny, smart, and humane toward its main characters.  And, of course, given the title, thes estories contain plenty of sex.

The first story, “The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson,” involves the sexual awakening of a fifty-five-year old widow who supports herself as an actor in medical student demonstrations and as a landlady.  The second story, “The Shielding of Mrs.Forbes,” involves two couples:  Graham and his wife Betty, and Graham’s parents. This is the story that made me see the humane side of Bennett in the final pages.

Both stories deal with small town propriety:  basically every character has a bit of a tawdry sex life that they are intent on keeping from their neighbors.  These are, after all, stories of seemliness.  Bennett does poke fun at suburban mores, but these pieces are not straight satires.  He cares for his characters, even the snobby elder Mrs. Forbes.  I don’t want to give away much more about the details about these delightful stories.   They are witty stories about hidden sex lives.
Smut:  Two Unseemly Stories by Alan Bennett

Picador
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Source:  Publisher via NetGalley

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