This is a short story but full of life. Even when The Lady In The Van is a sad tale, it is as well sweet and humane. Who would let an elderly lady move to their garden for two decades? This is not a statement. This is a question. Most of us like to think we are kind to strangers, do good, and are a good person, but few of us would go to such lengths to let someone like Miss Shepherd move to their backyard. Not when the lady in the question is opinionated, difficult, and rude, and a lot more.
I loved the story’s point of view, the fact that this was based on reality, and the writing. The dual voice of Alan Bennett showed the discord living inside all of us. This surfaced as a mixture of the sad and melancholic tone of the writer and the snarky, witty, and mean voice of inner Alan. That voice which mocks, nags, laughs, encourages, and so on. The dialogue between Alan Bennett and others were absurdly real. The way reality can be bafflingly bonkers. But the salt of the story was the conversations between Mary/Margaret/Miss Shepherd and the author himself. They were witty and amusing, making me feel a kinship occasionally with the older woman. With things like: “What do I want flowers? They only die!” Or when she accused the writer of using his mother in his writing. But beneath all the witty, sarcastic exchange, there was care and love for this difficult woman with a tragic past. That is what makes this worthy of your time.
Thank you for reading!