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   Let’s Do It: The
Authorised Biography of
Victoria Wood by Jasper
Rees (Trapeze, £20)
It’s a term thrown about
too often these days but I
think the writer, director, actor, singer, composer and comedian Victoria Wood can be called a ‘national treasure.’ Though abundantly talented she was essentially a shy person and must have had to summon up real strength of character to perform, as this entertaining trawl through her career shows.
She died too soon from cancer, at the age of 62, but she left us witty songs, sell out stand-up tours, the most brilliant TV show parodies like Acorn Antiques and a sitcom - dinnerladies - to match any in recent decades.
Indeed, there is an interesting chapter on the creation of dinnerladies and how her perfectionism exhausted her and a sometimes disgruntled cast. It shows that while in the main this is a lovely, affectionate biography it doesn’t shy away from Wood’s obsessions and flaws. Rees turns to the likes of Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Dawn French, Alan Bennett and hundreds more for their take on this comedy genius. RB
Margaret Thatcher: The
Authorised Biography:
Volume Three by Charles
Moore (Penguin, £18.99)
Now in paperback this
1000+ pages magnum opus
gives you almost every last
detail of Margaret Thatcher’s latter years in government and her time in retirement before betrayal, disasters and a lonely death. A fomer editor of The Daily Telegraph, Moore’s meticulous, if sometimes rather stuffy, biography has been much lauded by his peers in the media but its sheer size makes it heavy going for anyone not enthralled by politics. There are appendices at the bottom of most pages as Moore gets verdicts from all sides in his description of a titanic figure in British history. His access to Cabinet secretaries and other officials means there are plenty of revealing disclosures but it’s the closing chapter on the declining health of the once Iron Lady that is perhaps the most interesting and poignant. For all that, and bearing in mind she was such an embattled figure, it makes this reader want to seek out her autobiography to discover what she really thought of friends and foes inside and outside politics. RB
Between The Covers: Sex, Socialising and survival by Jilly Cooper (Bantam Press, £14.99)
Cooper’s observations from
her days as a newspaper
columnist cover a lot of topics but the chapters on the tedium of visiting people for the weekend, the stress of hosting dinner parties and the descent of middle age show her at her irreverent best. If these are caustic snipes her ‘jolly hockey sticks’ personna allows her to get away with a lot.
But where is her equivalent now? There are few on the ground; though overly acerbic, maybe Marina Hyde at The Guardian, or the ever mischievous Caitlin Moran in The Times. RB
Gino’s Italian Express by
Gino D’Campo (ITV, £20)
Pure sunshine food. The
recipes here are quick and
easy and taken from his
recent eight-part ITV series
exploring northern Italy by train. It’s more bright and breezy food book than travelogue and the photography is suitably gorgeous. JS
 62
 Books for Christmas




































































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