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Lindsey's Literary Leanings

Book Reviews - Contemporary Fiction / Biographies / Autobiographies

  • Lindsey Skelton-Smith

Absolutely (Author: Joanna Lumley)

Absolutely (Book Cover)

I have been a Joanna Lumley fan from probably first seeing her at the age of around 6/7 in Sapphire & Steele. From then it has developed into a bit of a girl crush. I must admit, I don't recall seeing her in much after that until Absolutely Fabulous, although certain programmes featured in this book rang a bell.

I loved Ab Fab. Patsy with her big blonde beehive & her bottles of Bolly. I could never get my head round though, how such a serene & regal creature as J.L could be transformed into the foul mouth drunken lush we all know & love..she never lost the glamour, though, even as Pats......

There are so many areas of her life in this book covered so indepth, much more than I'd dared hoped for which made it such a joy to read (& also cause I'm nosey). India was 'home' for her great grandparents on her mother's side, The Weirs. Her great grandfather was colonel in the medical service of the Indian army. Her grandfather followed in his footsteps, joining the 5th calvalry of the Indian army. Her father was born in Lahore, attended boarding school in England & then returned to India to serve in the Indian army as a Gurkha office. Despite having a wealth of knowledge about her family's history, Joanna says 'There are a thousand things that I wish I'd asked my parents'. They had many family pets & there are many wonderful photos to demonstrate this; Judy the golden laughing dog, Kinky the cat, an Iguana & some ducklings to name a few.

Her family left India for Southampton in 1947. Both her & her sister were sent to boarding school in Kent. There is a lovely picture of her & her sister & photos of the school, a handwritten postcard to her parents & a caption telling us that her mother hated her handwriting at this time. She loved languages & 'fascinating biology'. She muses how as a prefect at school she thought she was the bees knees 'demanding respect & subservience'. 'You start as a baby aged 5 & leave aged 17 going on 60. Then you start again in the wide wide world as a green & innocent beginner behaving like a child'....I'll leave you to discover the rest of this insightful quote.

She charts much of her amazing modelling career, living in a flat with friends & her sister, with a stunning array of photographs.

The next chapter sees her transition from modelling to acting. At that time you were required to spend 42 weeks in the theatre in order to gain an equity card. However, our girl managed to blag her way into a film with only one line, & the equity card was hers.

She writes (again with photos) about her role on Her Majesty's secret Service as The Angel Of Death, & her close bond with Ava Gardiner whilst filming Tam (it was never released)....the late night parties involving a pool in the basement of the house, & a lethal mix of cocktails.

Next, her foray into television, some brought back memories, some had passed me by. Her propensity for buying cars was a surprise & her turn on Top Gear. Her first marriage to David Lloyd who went on to write 'Are You Being Served & 'Allo Allo'. Her brief foray into Dracula films is something that I was never aware of. Her part in Coronation Street as Ken Barlow's girlfriend is something that I was aware of but she only stayed for a year, & said 'no' to Ken when he proposed. I'm a big Corrie fan & would have loved to have seen her in it. More play work & a part in General Hospital followed. The Avengers (I'm too young to remember), Sapphire & Steele & various parts on stage & screen graced us in the following years. There are some fascinating photos for anyone who can remember her in these roles. I recalled a few.

There are 15 pages dedicated to Absolutely with lots of hilarious pictures. She goes on to talk about her appearances at charity do's & opening places. Meeting all sorts of people.....including Queen Elizabeth II.

The next chapter is dedicated to her travels to faraway places connected to her upbringing & her family & those that are special to her such as seeing the Northern Lights. I saw a few of these on TV, but it was good to read about them, & those I didn't see.

The second to last chapter is all about her family, her son Jamie & his family, & how she has always maintained a good relationship with his father. Her composer husband & her two grandaughters. The photos are stunning, one of which is four generations of the Lumley's, including late mother 'who has a proud scot & often signed herself Weir'.

Lastly she remembers her fight for The Ghurkas that became international news, continuing her fathers legacy. The book is packed with stunning photographs & pictures, documents, letters, theatre posters & much more detail of her life & career than I thought there was going to be. Oh & just to warn you, it's a big old hefty thing too!! I was in heaven reading this book as I adore this lady. If you do, you will too. Did I enjoy this book? Absolutely.

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