Spectacles by Sue Perkins – Book Review

Title: Spectacles

Author: Sue Perkins

Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction

Blurb from Goodreads

When I began writing this book, I went home to see if my mum had kept some of my stuff. What I found was that she hadn’t kept some of it. She had kept all of it – every bus ticket, postcard, school report – from the moment I was born to the moment I finally had the confidence to turn round and say ‘Why is our house full of this shit?’

Sadly, a recycling ‘incident’ destroyed the bulk of this archive. This has meant two things: firstly, Dear Reader, you will never get to see countless drawings of wizards, read a poem about corn on the cob, or marvel at the kilos of brown flowers I so lovingly pressed as a child. Secondly, it’s left me with no choice but to actually write this thing myself.

This, my first ever book, will answer questions such as ‘Is Mary Berry real?’, ‘Is it true you wear a surgical truss?’ and ‘Is a non-spherically symmetric gravitational pull from outside the observable universe responsible for some of the observed motion of large objects such as galactic clusters in the universe?’

Most of this book is true. I have, of course, amplified my more positive characteristics in an effort to make you like me.

My Review

I have always enjoyed the humour and wit of the U.K. comedy duo Mel and Sue. I’m also a big fan of ‘The Great British Bake Off‘, the BBC tv show that these two co-presented for a number of years before it swapped to Channel 4.

Since then Sue has filmed a number of documentaries for various British channels and makes frequent appearances as a panellist on political / current affairs style entertainment shows.

And every single time she’s on telly I just have to watch. I find her to be extremely witty and intelligent but more importantly there’s this great depth to her. You just know that she’s quite a thoughtful person with a social conscience.

When reading this memoir that same warmth, wit, and brilliant self-deprecating humour shone out from every page. She just comes across as a really lovely person. The book is filled with bucket loads of comedy, facetiousness, and hilarious anecdotes.

But most of all it’s filled with Sue’s honest-to-goodness loveliness.

Perhaps this book didn’t ever truly dig deep into Sue’s soul and reveal the core of her being, but I don’t think she ever intended it to. Not every memoir has to focus on the darker sides of someone’s personal life or give us the nitty-gritty of day to day life.

Spectacles was still wonderfully honest and made for an incredibly worthwhile read as it is immensely enjoyable. I would heartily recommend it to any of her fans.

These are two of my favourite passages from the book:

“Sometimes we don’t want to be tethered to yesterday. It’s nicer to forget. Maybe the gaps in our memory are there for a reason, evolutionary perhaps, to give us the space to grow, to get away from childishness or childish things.

Or maybe it’s so we have the chance to invent, or at least include, some magic in our yesterdays. Surely the consolation of getting older, of moving away from youth, is that we can shape our past to our fantasies.

So, even if the present isn’t going the way we want it, we can stand back and remember our earlier selves as exciting and funny and daring.”


Regarding the birth of Mel’s first baby:-

“Once mother and baby were back at home later that night, I dropped round. We lay on the bed on a bedspread made by my mum for Mel’s thirtieth. We’d lain there a million times – laughing and gossiping – but this time, instead of talking, we were silent, in a kind of awe at the little thing she had created. Mel bent her head forward and lightly touched her daughter’s nose with her own, and I watched her watching her child.

She’s done it , I thought, this friend of mine. She’s crossed the Rubicon. She’s gone somewhere I can never go, somewhere beyond the reach of my understanding or experience. We’ve gone everywhere hand in hand together. But I can’t go here. Not here. I can’t go here with you and share it .

It was one of the most beautiful and painful experiences of my life, that hour on the bed with my darling mate and her hours-old child. I could feel that love, that transcendent love, but as if through glass. I could see it, but I couldn’t get at it.

I think that night was perhaps the first time I had to contend with the painful reality of being a grown-up – that messy, unarticulated feelings stay with you for ever without finding resolution. You just live with this unnamed weird stuff. We all do. So I did what I’d seen proper grown-ups do – I swallowed it down, all of it, took a deep breath and moved on.”

My Socials 

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