Here’s the description from the back of the book, there’s a reason I’m putting this in.
For over fifteen years the film star Dirk Bogarde has been living in an old farm house in Provence. Covering this period in his life, An Orderly Man – the third outstanding volume of his autobiography – is written with the same dazzling wit, the same sharp eye for detail and the same gift for encapsulating character that distinguish the previous two. Bogarde is a natural writer: An Orderly Man is a delight to read.
Ok. I take exception to some of this. Let me ramble and explain why I think Bogarde was not a natural writer. But I do think this book is a delight to read!
This book is wonderful for many reasons. It is well written, it gives us colourful and clear descriptions of what he’s seeing and who he’s talking about. With his descriptions I can almost see some of the people and visualise some of the problems on his farm. It also continues to give us insight into the world of a ‘film star’, someone who feels he is fairly ordinary and just happens to have some talents.
This is the book where he describes how he came to write and it’s a totally fascinating story. Bogarde was not a good student, avoiding anything that might possibly be construed as learning until all of a sudden he’s left school and is trying to make his way in theatre. He’s only now discovering that reading romances and eating chocolates is not enough, he needs to read and learn Shakespeare. Two years later he’s in the Army and just starting to read, he ends up in the group of men who read and then notices that those who don’t are sent off first. This is the first time he’s been an active participant in the learning process and it paid dividends. But not just yet.
Some years later he’s taken possession of a house. A lady notices this and writes him a letter saying she used to live there and asks questions about it. He only answers some fan mail and this is the most important one he’s ever answered. They end up with a long, long correspondence but never meet and never talk. She sometimes correcting his spelling, his grammar and making him write. Making him do the most valuable thing a beginning writer can do, just write descriptive passages. When she died all of his correspondence came back to him so that when he had the idea to write a few essays he had some invaluable resources to fall back on. Mrs X was his first needlewoman, patching up the holes in his education. A natural writer is able to just write with very little help, it seems Bogarde had lots of help.
I learned many things in this book. The most valuable is that it doesn’t matter when your education may have started you can still end up being a published author. Bogarde was over 50 when Chatto and Windus approached him and suggested he write a book with a view to publication…there’s hope for me yet.
This book is well worth the read, as is any by Bogarde. I have several most sitting on my shelf waiting to be read, I know when I get there they will be a treat. I’ve linked to An Orderly Man in the picture, but at that price I suggest you click on the ebook and save yourself pots of money, unless the prices change you’ll see what I mean.