Book Review: Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

I quite like Miranda Hart, there’s something wonderfully simple and fun in her style of comedy. An acceptance and revelling in the silly, daft and the awkward. I got given this book a while ago and it got lost in my extensive “to read pile”, but having been on night shifts recently I was in the mood for something lighthearted and easy to read while at work. This looked like it would fit the bill, so I pulled it from the stack and cracked it open one night.

miranda

The good news is that Miranda’s jolly, freewheeling style is here in spades, as is her willingness to make a fool of herself. The book is divided into 18 chapters, each dealing with a separate theme, and Miranda giving her opinions on various topics, often in discussion with her 18 year old self who is less than pleased with how the next 20 years of her life.

The framing device is handled rather well, with some nice gags about youthful naivety and ambition. It also drives one of Hart’s central themes, which is we should pursue our own happiness and dreams, not the symbols and traditions that society believes we should chase. Her younger self wants her to be a married mother, respected for her insight into culture and wildly successful, although unsure what this is.

Older Miranda instead explains the long route she took towards success, the way she slowly accepted that there were certain things that just weren’t for her and that pretending to care and know about these things is just a waste of time and regularly backfires.

These little anecdotes of embarrassment and awkwardness are consistently amusing, and I found myself cringe-laughing throughout.

It’s the kind of book I suspect you’re meant to dip in and out of, perhaps while on holiday or in small commute sized chunks. Reading it in extended periods as I did does hurt the book a little. While being in Miranda’s company is pleasant enough there are certain motifs that wear on repetition and there are moments where I found myself a little bit irritated. Similarly, the upper middle class-ness of it all is rather twee in places, and boarding school life feels like a throwback to an earlier era, a holdover from Enid Blyton.

Worst of all however, is that despite talking about how we shouldn’t judge and accept other people’s interests and lifestyles, there are a few little pops at groups she seem to like which undercuts it. Also, it’s hypocritical that she defends her decisions to avoid parenthood and those of others, but turns around and tells one group of men to “grow up” because they’ve chosen not to get married and have kids. Also, there’s the lazy “living with their mothers” dig at science fiction fans, which is always a lame cliche but feels even more unpleasant from a wealthy woman at a time when many can’t afford to move out on their own.

These issues aside it’s a decent enough read which raises plenty of smiles and delivers some big laughs. Hart comes across as likeable and fun, but it’s best suited to being read in smaller chunks. Perhaps the book would have worked better with more anecdotes without trying to tie them to a theme.

Verdict: 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do? BETEO.

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