I finally finished Lynn Barber's An Education the other night.
As a film, it is likely to be garlanded with awards come 2010, with praise coming from all quarters, but the book is a different story.
I don't mean it's not well-written, but it covers a far greater span than I expected. All the preamble was about Lynn Barber's relationship with an older, shady man who also managed to charm her parents. In fact, most of the extracts I read in the different papers were solely about this part of her life, so I had no idea that the actual book covers Lynn Barber's life and career way beyond her pre-university years. And for me, this was the most interesting part of the book. How Barber's career progressed, the people she met and how she ended up becoming the star interviewer that she is. Also, the final chapters, where she charts the descent of her husband's illness, were completely fascinating. Her reaction to his deterioration was remarkable and brutally honest – almost to the point that she becomes extraordinarily unlikeably. Until, that is, you remember just how difficult watching a loved one dying really is. It's totally unlike anything else. All reason and normality flies out of the window. Your everyday reactions change and you find yourself thinking and doing things that you never previously believed yourself capable of. Forget the film. The final chapters of An Education, for me, are far more revealing and interesting.
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