I’ve known Jennifer Saunders’ work for years and I love her work to pieces! When I heard she had a biography coming out, I just had to have it.
The book starts at the Central School of Speech and Drama where Jennifer followed a course to become a drama Teacher. Every now and then you skip forward because Jennifer remember something, but she always takes you back to where the chapter started out. If you are a lover of chronological happenings in a biography, this may not be the book for you.
She takes us through her life, her career and of course her battle against breast cancer. She doesn’t write a lot of personal things and that is a good thing, she mostly writes about her journey to become who she is in the comedy world. Which is in a way also featuring her personal life, but it’s not like a day to day journal type of personal anecdotes.
I knew Jennifer and Dawn French weren't friends straight away, but they do fit together perfectly comedy wise and in the book you can read how their friendship started to grow. It was fun to read about the things that later turned into the sketches she did. Same with Joanna Lumley, I thought these two knew each other long before Absolutely Fabulous, but they gotten to know each other due to AbFab and also had great chemistry and an amazing friendship followed. In the book Jennifer has a few faxes she and Joanna send to each other and they are so much fun to read!
I loved the book, because in my mind, Jennifer is a strong woman who always knows what to say and when to say it, if it would be on stage or at a job interview. Due to this book I found out that she is very shy and quiet in matters like a job interview, it made me smile as I am much the same. During reading the book, you may notice that Jennifer mostly does things and succeeds in things by sheer luck. And what kind of luck! I think her natural, funny way of things made her the successful person she is today and she certainly did not start out like that or had it happen quickly, she had many struggling moments, but she went through all of it with a “sure, whatever” touch to it. She herself says in the book “I have spent my entire career waiting for the tap on the shoulder. How has she gotten away with it for so many years?“. As I said, luck and her natural funny way!
I find Jennifer a very inspiring person. Being so normal even though she’s known world wide and seeing everything with a positive and sometimes funny feeling. This certainly becomes clear during the chapters on breast cancer. The best moment for the that defined what I felt about her was true was this bit;
“The clinic offered me thing called a cold cap, which is a helmet you wear that is extremely cold – freezing, in fact – and can prevent a good deal of hair loss. I gave it a go, but losing my hear was not a real worry for me. I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life in wigs of one kind or another. Most people don’t really know what my real hair looks like, and are shocked to find out it’s not red and curly”.
I feel this is a Miss Saunders’ way to react to something that, for instance for me, would be devastating as I love my hair. About the moment she actually shaves of the hair she says “Finally Ade and I had matching hairdos“. Now, I know we all deal with things in different ways and sometimes it’s just an ‘act’ to cover a true feeling up, but still. Doing this, thinking this even though you’d cover up a true feeling is for me still inspiring and put a smile on my face!
One of my favorite quotes in the book was by Jennifer’s father: “You can be serious, but you must never, ever take yourself seriously”. Take that quote to heart as there is much truth in it!