The Clothes They Stood up in

The Clothes They Stood up in

Book - 2001
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The Ransomes had been burgled. "Robbed," Mrs. Ransome said. "Burgled," Mr. Ransome corrected. Premises were burgled; persons were robbed. Mr. Ransome was a solicitor by profession and thought words mattered. Though "burgled" was the wrong word too. Burglars select; they pick; they remove one item and ignore others. There is a limit to what burglars can take: they seldom take easy chairs, for example, and even more seldom settees. These burglars did. They took everything. This swift-moving comic fable will surprise you with its concealed depths. When the sedate Ransomes return from the opera to find their Notting Hill flat stripped absolutely bare--down to the toilet paper off the roll (a hard-to-find shade of forget-me-not blue)--they face a dilemma: Who are they without the things they've spent a lifetime accumulating? Suddenly the world is full of unlimited and frightening possibility. But just as they begin adjusting to this giddy freedom, a newfound interest in sex, and a lack of comfy chairs, a surreal reversal of events causes them to question their assumptions yet again. The Ransomes' bafflement is the reader's delight. Alan Bennett's gentle but scathing wit, unerring ear for dialogue, and sense of the absurd make The Clothes They Stood Up In a memorable exploration of where in life true riches lie.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2001, c1998.
ISBN: 9780375503061
Characteristics: 160 p. ;,16 cm.


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Aug 03, 2015

Another example of Bennett's uniquely English wit. An unlikely but highly entertaining story, it's a comedy of manners, sending up the peculiarities of a repressed middle aged middle class couple; but it also incorporates an intriguing mystery. And just beneath the surface, there's a much more sober life lesson about opportunities lost.
This little Bennett story is not as charming as "The Uncommon Reader" or quite as believable as "Smut" but well worth the couple of hours it takes to read it.
As always, Bennett displays all the characteristics of a playwright in his novelettes.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 23, 2014

This tiny volume has a fully developed plot (with surprise ending), social satire, pathos, drama, mystery, laugh-out-loud humour and insight into the human condition. After a night at the opera, the Ransomes return home to their cosy Notting Hill flat, stripped bare. Everything is gone, from the toilet paper to the oven and the casserole left in it to warm. Minus a lifetime of accumulation, they can start again – an exhilarating process.
Treat yourself one evening to this delightful, elegantly written gem.

Jan 15, 2014

A strange little novella, funny in its own way. It brings up some interesting questions about how identity is shaped by one's possessions. I found myself looking around at my stuff and wondering what do I really need to be happy? And what would I miss if it all suddenly disappeared?

May 24, 2013

This is a lovely, curious little book. Bennett is brilliant in his quiet humour. Anyone who calls Alan Bennett a "small brain" has never read any of hi plays or seen any of his monologues performed.
If you fail to see the humour in this book then it is your sense of humour that is lacking.

Aug 02, 2012

Not one of Bennett's best efforts. It is mostly silly.

Jan 24, 2012

fields corner

Jun 13, 2011

I like Bennett, but this book is not one of his best accomplishments.

Feb 11, 2011

Alan Bennett is a literary superstar. Playwright, novelist, screenwriter, he has crafted some of the best works of the last ten years. The Madness of King George III and An Uncommon Reader are his two best known works.

In this novella, Bennett turns his attention to Mr. and Mrs. Ransome who are burgled when they are out at the opera one night. But this is not an ordinary robbery. Instead, the Ransomes come home to find everything from the carpet on the floor to the toilet paper gone. They are literally left, as the title says, with the clothes they stood up in.

What follows is an exploration of how our material goods shape up. Mr. Ransome finds the whole thing troubling, but seizes upon the opportunity to get more expensive stereo equipment. Mrs. Ransome, on the other hand, sees this as an opportunity to change her life, realizing that some of the things that surrounded her had no meaning.

This would have been a brilliant book both on consumerism and how to save a stagnant marriage if it hadn't been for the twist that Bennett throws at you near the end of the book. A twist that is so far fetched, that you find it hard to believe, even after you have accepted that an entire apartment could be stripped so bare.

Jun 01, 2010

Funny book. Do you see a moral here? This is not a funny book. I didn't laugh once. Again, this is not a funny book. I don't like moralizing books. And on top of this, the guy dies at the end for the woman's possibility to "grow up" ?? Stupid, stupid book. Small book, small brain.

Dec 05, 2009

I like Alan Bennett! This tiny postage stamp-sized book is very English, very funny.

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