It was written by Alan Bennett, who was born in Leeds in 1934, and grew up in the changing times which were the fifties and sixties. The six monologues which are "Talking Heads" were written and recorded in 1987 for BBC television, but have since been produced for radio programmes and as books and plays in their own right. Each genre has its own particular style of production and performance, but the monologues manage to keep their humour and charm throughout, reflecting Alan Bennett's sarcasm and dark humour.
This is a book I would recommend to friends, not simply because of the sympathy for the characters that these six monologues evoke or even for the humour caused by the character's lack of self-knowledge, but for the fact that we can all relate to these characters. They may be the outcasts of society and people we would not like to be.
But they share their thoughts and feelings and the reader understands just how easy it would be to fall into a similar situation and become the neighbour or relative no-one wants to acknowledge.
There are several main themes running through this book and most are usually those associated with the human condition, loneliness and alienation, a failure to understand others and a lack of self-knowledge caused by individuals at odds with contemporary society.
Loneliness and alienation from a changed society is one of the main themes and it runs strongly through all of the monologues. Irene, the main character, in
'A Lady of Letters' is lost in a society which she feels no longer has any boundaries or structure. In the past she was encouraged to show a neighbourly interest, but in contemporary society, no contact is welcomed by the family she has been spying on, and only...