Looking back at the books I’ve read and reviewed it seems I spend a lot of time saying ‘I don’t normally read this type of book…’, but in the case of autobiographies I genuinely don’t read them as I have tried a few and tend to find them dry and narcissistic. When Dawn French’s book, Dear Fatty, was recommended to me, however, I gave it a go as it’s written in a series of letters to French’s family and friends (the ‘Fatty’ of the title is French’s comedy partner and friend, Jennifer Saunders). This style worked well for me as it was much more accessible than digging through pages and pages of ‘I did this…, I did that…’ – it was almost as though I was eavesdropping on a private conversation (and don’t well all love a bit of that!?).
It turns out that, aside from being a very talented comic and writer, Dawn French has had a really fascinating life, much of which came about through her father’s service in the RAF. I saw on Sky last year Dawn French’s contribution to the Little Crackers series, but didn’t realise until I read the book that her tale of meeting the Queen Mother as a child had actually happened. Her retelling of this, as with all her recollections, is done in detail, but with a great deal of humour and you can really see the events happening as through the eyes of a child.
Dawn French is a very private person, you very rarely see press stories about her and her family, but she is very open in this book particularly about her father’s death, the details of which she never flinches from, and a very public time during which her husband, Lenny Henry, was reported to have had been unfaithful. It’s certainly clear that there are many layers to her other than her comic persona, and yet without reading this book you wouldn’t even think about it!
I really enjoyed reading the book as the letters are easy to read as snippets – when you’ve got your kids to see to you need a book that you can read in short section and not lose track! It’s a very warm look at a celebrity’s life and, as it’s getting close to Christmas and the next glut of autobiographies will be coming out, a few of them should well take note of Dawn French’s style and openness.
The link above is to Amazon and is sponsored, but this book is available from most good bookshops.