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The Clothes They Stood Up In

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  4,040 ratings  ·  461 reviews
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 ta ...more
Hardcover, 174 pages
Published February 6th 2001 by Random House (first published July 6th 1998)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  4,040 ratings  ·  461 reviews

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Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Had I not seen a friend add this recently I might have missed this little gem! Something about the cover and title drew me in, but when I saw its cute, compact size I couldn’t resist. This author is so funny. Some parts I found downright hysterical, but the humor is so dry you could almost miss it. And the characters, namely Mrs. Ransome, were a hoot. An English couple goes out to an opera one evening and comes home to find they’ve been completely stripped of their belongings. Everything! As the ...more
So, I've read Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader, as well as The Lady In The Van already and came upon The Clothes They Stood Up In by chance. I had to read it. Alan Bennett is a must-read, like Shakespeare, Hemingway, Oscar Wilde, Gabriel García Márquez, John Steinbeck, Willa Cather, Daphney Du Maurier, et al.

They all have one highly interesting thing in common: they never acquired degrees in creative writing, in which identity politics became an indulgence in poisonous entertainment. You've r
Mar 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Arriving home one night after the opera, the Ransomes find they have been burgled, the burglars leaving nothing whatsoever behind. The Ransomes’ relationship is an empty shell but this event leads Mrs Ransome to reconsider her life and to plan changes. Both are repressed, ordinary individuals leading separate lives within their marriage yet Bennett manages to make us laugh at them and pity them in equal measure. Not his finest work and not much more than a short story but this is classic Alan Be ...more
Jan 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humour, literature

I’m fascinated by all of the deceit and lies that long-term relationships often accumulate around them. Not the big lies – You know, 'I’ve been having an affair for twenty years, darling' – but the little things that hardly matter, but we still try to keep hidden anyway. I’m also fascinated when both people know the other knows, but go on with the game anyway. Perhaps some relationships end because there are not enough 'little lies'. Hard to tell.

So, there was little question I would like this.
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

Mr. and Mrs. Ransome arrive home from the opera to find that everything they own, aside from the clothes on their back, has been stolen. While Mr. Ransome is irritated and angry, Mrs. Ransome reacts unexpectedly.

"To have the carpet almost literally pulled from under her should, she felt, induce salutary thoughts about the way she had lived her was up to her to make of it what she could. She would go to museums, she thought, art galleries, learn about the history of London; t
Dec 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
A Christmas read, in one day. In fact I was listening to Bennett earlier in the day on Radio4 as I ironed (The Lady in the Van). He is a delightful writer, charming, funny and every word counts. Here a middle aged, middle class couple come back from the opera to find everything in their house gone. Not a normal burglary - even the toilet roll holder has been taken. Of course this sets off a chain of events that peels back the layers of the couple's marriage. I was captivated mostly all through, ...more
Oct 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-charm
I picked this book up because I loved Alan Bennett's book "The Uncommon Reader." This is a charming British novella involving a bizarre robbery and a befuddled middle-aged English couple. It doesn't have the payoff that Uncommon Reader does, but it's still a pleasant read. ...more
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A while back I was given 3 Alan Bennett books, I'd never read anything by him before and started off with The Lady in the Van (because I had seen the film), next was Father Father Burning Bright (because it was the one in the middle) and whilst they were very good they were nothing compared to the 3rd book. The Clothes They Stood Up In is funny, quirky and quite absurd, if the twist was more sinister then it would have worked as an episode of The Twilight Zone. The Ransome's come back from the o ...more
The Ransomes come home from the opera to find that absolutely everything, down the the carpets, toilet paper and holder, to the oven containing the roast has been taken from the carpet. Nothing is left but the bare floor, the toilet, sink and bathtub sans shower curtain. No doubt this is funny to some, but given that humour is subjective, not for everyone. I found it not very funny at all. More than that by the end I wondered why it had to end just the way it did.

So, if you are an Alan Bennett f
February 2012

In this tiny, tiny book, Mr. and Mrs. Ransome return from the opera to find they've been...robbed? Burgled? Sacked and pillaged is more like it, since the burglars (thieves? Viking raiders, perhaps?) took everything--furniture, clothing, jewelry, even (as Mr. Ransome learns a bit loo late) the toilet paper. Everything is insured, of course, and replacing their belongings won't be too much trouble. But the Ransomes soon discover that replacing everything isn't as easy as losing it al
Oct 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008, fiction, library
We gain a lot of our identity from the things we surround us with, especially the things in our homes. If suddenly all our possessions are taken from us, what then?
This is what happens to the Ransoms, a middleage couple, who when arriving home from the opera discover that all they have is the clothes they wore that night - everything in their appartment is gone.
Mrs. Ransom comes to view this as a chance for a new beginning - she starts to feel that all the old stuff was holding her back. Mr. Ran
antiquarian reverie
I am adding my reviews several years later, even though I did not care for this book, it will never be forgotten because while I was reading and finished, the next day I was told my brother died in an accident the day before. So it sticks in my mind.

I tend to read older/classic books but do occasionally read more modern books which I have come across some I really love but The Clothes They Stood Up In by British writer Alan Bennett was not one of them. It was a creative story about a middle age
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, 2016
A delightful novella that I listened to - read by the author which doesn't always mean it will be good but in this case it was perfect. There is a lot packed into this tiny book. I laughed out loud several times (I am a sucker for the scatological…I have the sense of humor of a 13 year old boy) and yet, the story also made me think about bigger things. How easy it is to get into a rut and not even see it, how quickly your possessions become your life if you let them. What would you do if you did ...more
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lmao
This book starts with the bizarre robbery of all the contents of a married couple’s apartment. When Mr and Mrs Ransome call the police it’s not to declare the theft of a their valuables, but the loss of everything they owned which they weren’t carrying on themselves. EVERYTHING. From the armchairs, to the telephone, to the toilet brushed, to the oven with the casserole inside. Additionally, the mysterious affair was enriched by the hilarious British humor, Bennett knows how to keep the reader en ...more
Elizabeth A
Feb 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Book blurb: 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, 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.

The physical book is a delight to hold - so tiny that it could fit into your pocket - it reminded me of books for little hands. It is hard not to be drawn in by the premise of this stor
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk
Un capolavoro di comicità, un romanzo esilarante che racconta la storia di una coppia dalla vita spenta che si ritrova la casa svaligiata fin nei minimi particolari.

‘I take it you’ll want counselling,’ said the constable.


‘Someone comes along and holds your hand,’ said the sergeant, looking at the window. ‘Partridge thinks it’s important.’

‘We’re all human,’ said the constable.

‘I’m a solicitor,’ said Mr Ransome.

‘Well,’ said the sergeant, ‘Perhaps your missus could give it a try. We like to
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Never heard of this book, never heard of this author, but what a lovely discovery. A tiny shiny comedic gem found by browsing our library catalog for humorous fiction. Our library is actually far from reliable when it comes to accurately categorizing books, occasionally creating for hilarious results, but this one was right on the money. I read the first paragraph in the description and was instantly hooked. This book is amusing in a distinctly British way, but if you’re into that sort of thing, ...more
Oscar Despard
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was an enjoyable, coming of age story, which was both touching and humorous simultaneously. I would recommend it to a friend.
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
Mr. and Mrs. Ransome have been robbed, no burgled, robbed happens to a person, burgled to a premise. Of course this couldn't have been normal thieves, because they took everything. Stove with dinner in it, to toilet paper. Nothing is left and the Ransome's do not know what to do. They spent their life accumulating stuff that never was really enjoyed or served much purpose, except for Mr. Ransome's music equipment that he used to listen to Mozart, which his wife wasn't privy to due to the large h ...more
Martyn Stanley
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's a 4.5 really. Bennett writes wonderful, interesting characters. They are strange, almost caricature-like people. I can't describe, them perhaps a distilled middle-class, childless couple in their fifties. Mr and Mrs Ransome are the sort of people who have net curtains and lace table-cloths.

The basic premise and main plot device of this book is fascinating to behold. If YOU arrived home one day to find your home completely emptied, down to the bare floor boards - how would you cope? How wou
Lisa RV
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book at the library based in it's diminutive size & the cover art. I wanted a quick, funny read & it served that purpose. But it was also more. It was clever, insightful, & very readable at the same time. Having never read Alan Bennett, I'm so glad I picked up another of his ("The Uncommon Reader") at the same time. ...more
Jul 24, 2019 added it
This is not my kind of book! Sooo no rating.....It would be minus 3 stars.
Lorri Steinbacher
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read on the strength of the cover and loved the premise. The Ransome's come home from the opera to find their apartment burgled, and not just burgled but emptied of every single item, even the roast in the oven. The whys and wherefores are interesting, but even more interesting is what the event does to the Ransome's staid marriage. ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, uk-ireland
Funny, but I guess funny books are not really my cup of tea.
Jason Wilson
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it
When a burglary strips an upper middle class couple of all they own it sparks a journey of self discovery and catharsis . Not Bennett’s finest work but interesting.
Annette C
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very ODD and adorable.

Who is Alan Bennett?
He's incredibly clever.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general
My mother gave me this book many years ago after she read it. It might be a small book, but the story inside of it is far more complex than you might think. I enjoyed reading it near two decades ago. I recently took it down from the shelf and decided to give it another read. It might be the passage of years, but I took in the book a completely different way. While I expect that from longer books I didn't expect it from this compact little book. I enjoyed reading it just as much as I did the firs ...more
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Short, so so sharp. Very distinctive authorial voice used superbly. This is a little diamond bright comedy short.
Do you possibly need to understand a certain amount of context to enjoy? Wonder how it seems to non-British? Is it too much of an in-joke?
Dane Cobain
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I mean, this is just one-liners galore. But it’s more than that, it’s a satisfying short story at the same time. This is my first Alan Bennett book, but I adored it. It was funny, gripping and just generally entertaining. The story line was quirky – a couple comes home to find that literally everything in their house has been stolen – and while the writing style was almost cliche, it worked perfectly alongside Bennet’s witticisms and humorous dialogue. Easy to read, and plenty of fun too.

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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Alan Bennett is an English author and Tony Award-winning playwright. Bennett's first stage play, Forty Years On, was produced in 1968. Many television, stage and radio plays followed, along with screenplays, short stories, novellas, a large body of non-fictional prose and broadcasting, and many appearances as

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