Sunday, 9 May 2010

Liz Smith: Our Betty

Liz Smith, once called the nation's favourite fictional grandmother, is a familiar face to all TV and cinema viewers. She is most often recognised for her role of Nana in The Royle Family. OUR BETTY is Liz's life story - from her cosseted yet lonely childhood with her beloved grandparents, through the war with the WRENS, marriage and children, divorce and poverty, long years working in dead-end jobs, until her heavenly escape of evening acting classes provided the chance for a career. OUR BETTY is, like its author, original, amusing and fascinating on the struggles, hopes and successes endemic of a life in front of the camera.

The subtitle "Scenes from my life" clearly describes the nature of the book. It's more a collection of brief episodes than the narrative of Liz Smith's life. In places, I found it hard to relate to the story, as Liz Smith describes life in the UK before, during and shortly after the war, times, where people didn't have phones or TVs. However, I liked the fact that Smith doesn't describe her past all-colourful and glorious. Times were hard then and times are hard now, only different....

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