Book Review: Spectacles by Sue Perkins

I ‘m a big fan of Sue Perkins, one half of the comedy duo Mel and Sue, although I mainly know her from her work on her own as a guest in Qi and her shows with Giles Coren where they would eat in the style of different historical periods. 

Of course her most recent success has been reuniting with Mel to front The Great British Bake Off on which they are funny, charming and serve dual roles of comforting distraught baker’s when their cakes fail to rise and keeping up a stream of knowingly laboured puns and innuendos.It is the success of this show (which MWF introduced me to and which we are now both obsessed with) that has no doubt encouraged interest in a memoir.

But of her personal life I knew very little other than that she is a lesbian and in a relationship with fellow TV presenter Anna Richardson.

Perkins and Richardson

So going into this book I only had a brief idea of how the story would unfold but suspected that it would be told in a funny, affable manner.

It definitely was and Perkins’ style is a delight, easy to read, self deprecating manner with some nice repeated gags and some moving sections as well. Spending your time in this book is like listening to a very nice, funny woman chatting to you and I found myself liking Perkins more and more as I went on.

One of the aspects I enjoyed most was how much time Perkins spends talking about her family, who she recounts several funny stories and gently mocks their foibles in a loving way. She gives little snapshots of life in the Perkins household and they are told with real affection.

The book is divided into different sections around important places in her life, including Croydon where she grew up, Cambridge where she went to university and Cornwall where she moved to.

Perkins is funny throughout but there are moments which are achingly moving, especially the frank unsentimental way that Perkins discusses cancer and a failed relationship. What I admire most is that Perkins is in control of what she recollects and so there are references to certain events which are never explored in depth, and I think that’s fair enough, we choose what we share and what is too personal, or painful, to relive.

Of course, she knows what the reader has come for and her sarcastic, jokey description of GBBO behind the scenes is funny and well done, as is her handling of her sexuality and experiences coming out. It’s consistently funny and Perkins is a talented, witty writer who instills her writing with charm and warmth. If you’re not a fan before, you will be by the end.

Verdict: A funny and warm memoir in which Perkins tells her stories with humour and insight. In the company of such a likeable narrator this book is an easy, fun read and leaves you with great affection for Perkins. 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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