Author: Jennifer Saunders
Publisher: Viking, 2013
ISBN 13: 978-0316098328
Review by Angela Vincent
I don’t read too many autobiographies but every now and again I like to dip into the life of someone I think might be funny, inspiring or both. One of the previous autobiographies I have enjoyed more than most was ‘Dear Fatty’ by Dawn French. ‘Fatty’, otherwise known as Jennifer Saunders, has since gone on to write her own autobiography.
The sign of a good autobiography, I feel, is the “voice test.” Think: as you are reading, can you hear the author speaking the words you are reading? Reading ‘Bonkers’ was like having Jennifer Saunders inside my head–It is so clearly her voice. This makes it intensely readable.
Jennifer Saunders voice is warm and her humor and love of life come through clearly. This is a lady that has had, and is still having, a wonderful time. She seems constantly surprised that she is employed to be silly, dress up, and laugh with her friends.
The book is full of stories about some of the most ridiculous and surreal times spent around the rich and famous, which provide plenty of laugh out-loud moments. I have certainly chuckled my way through my tube journeys this week with Jennifer Saunders for company. She has the ability to flick effortlessly between different time periods, interrupting herself with other stories or incidents that add to rather than detract from her point. She cleverly manages all this without managing to confuse the reader.
There are some fantastic French and Saunders and Ab Fab anecdotes that after finishing this book yesterday, I spent far too long on YouTube watching old clips and out-takes.
She tells many tales of family life and entertains the reader with some great snapshots of life at Chez Saunders and Edmondson. Jennifer clearly adores her family and friends and it is they that come across as the most important elements of her life. Towards the end of the book she discusses her experience of having breast cancer. She is honest and funny without being overly sentimental or making light of that episode in her life.
Autobiographies also need a good smattering of photos for analytical pouring over. Bonkers probably has just about enough to satisfy the inquisitive / nosey nature of any autobiographic reader.
If you have enjoyed Jennifer Saunders in anything she has ever done I think this book will be for you. I zipped through it in a couple of days, which makes it a perfect weekend read.
About the Author
Jennifer Jane Saunders (born 6 July 1958) is an English comedian, screenwriter and actress. She has won three BAFTAs (including the Bafta Fellowship), an International Emmy Award, a British Comedy Award, a Rose d’Or Light Entertainment Festival Award, two Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Awards, and a People’s Choice Award.
She first found widespread attention in the 1980s when she became a member of the Comic Strip after graduating from the Central School of Speech and Drama. With her comedy partner Dawn French, she wrote and starred in their eponymous sketch show, French and Saunders, for which she and French received a BAFTA fellowship in 2009. She received worldwide acclaim through the early to mid-1990s for writing and playing the lead role of Edina Monsoon in the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous.
She has guest-starred in the American sitcoms Roseanne and Friends, and won the American People’s Choice Award for voicing the wicked Fairy Godmother in DreamWorks’ animated Shrek 2. | Wikipedia Page | Twitter
Text © 2014 Angela Vincent
Re-print © 2014 The Black Lion Journal
Re-printed with permission.
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