Alan Bennett’s funny and unexpectedly touching memoir of Miss Shepherd, who took refuge in his garden in her decrepit van and stayed for fifteen years.
Funny, touching and unexpectedly spectacular, The Lady in the Van tells the story of Miss Shepherd, whom the author, Alan Bennett, first came across when she was living in the street in her perpetually stalled van (or rather a succession of such vans) near his home in Camden Town. Taking refuge with her van in his garden originally for three months, she ended up staying fifteen years.
Bennett and Miss S. made for an odd couple. They were, in a sense, landlord and tenant, but other than some peace of mind (knowing Miss S. was ‘at least out of harm’s way’) Bennett didn’t appear to benefit much from the arrangement. Miss S. wasn’t the easiest person to deal with: ‘One was seldom able to do her a good turn without some thoughts of strangulation.’ Still, her presence obviously affected him. Adapted for the stage by the author from his autobiographical memoir, Bennett describes The Lady in the Van as being condensed from ‘some of the many entries to do with her that are scattered through my diaries.’
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