Ubalstecha's Reviews > The Clothes They Stood Up In

The Clothes They Stood Up In by Alan Bennett
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Feb 11, 2011

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Read in February, 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.
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