This Much Is True – Miriam Margolyes

Published By: John Murray (Hachette)
Pages: 448
Released On: 16/09/2021

BAFTA-winning actor, voice of everything from Monkey to the Cadbury’s Caramel Rabbit, creator of a myriad of unforgettable characters from Lady Whiteadder to Professor Sprout, Miriam is the nation’s favourite (and naughtiest) treasure. Now, at the age of 80, she has finally decided to tell her extraordinary life story – and it’s well worth the wait.

Find out how being conceived in an air-raid gave her curly hair; what pranks led to her being known as the naughtiest girl at Oxford High School ever had; how she ended up posing nude for Augustus John as a teenager; why Bob Monkhouse was the best (male) kiss she’s ever had; and what happened next after Warren Beaty asked ’Do you f**k?’

From declaring her love to Vanessa Redgrave to being told to be quiet by the Queen, this book is packed with brilliant , hilarious stories. With a cast list stretching from Scorsese to Streisand, a cross-dressing Leonardo DiCaprio to Isaiah Berlin, this as warm and honest, as full of life and surprises, as its inimitable author.

*****

There was no way I was going to find this book anything other than simply fabulous – much like Miriam herself. I have adored her since I was old enough to know what it means to idolise someone. She is brash and crass and rude and crude and simply marvellous. She is not afraid to say what she thinks but, in my opinion, she never lets this stray into out and out rudeness. But above all else, she is genuine. She genuinely finds people fascinating and wants to know more about them.

There are things in this book of which I disagree with – particularly her views on politics – but she is honest and truthful to herself and her views, and for the majority of them, I find myself agreeing with her. When I watch her interviews or documentaries, I find myself reflected in her (even if I am 50 years younger than her), and I long to be her.

One pet peeve of mine is name dropping. Fine, you’ve met Brad Pitt or Prince Charles, great. I’ve met Barbara from down the road (there isn’t a Barbara down the road as far as I’m aware, but that’s not the point). Why should someone meeting Barbra Streisand make them more interesting than meeting my Barbara? I find it so irritating. And yet, in her book, Miriam drops about a hundred names, but yet again, they are genuine. She isn’t saying she knows Charles Dance because he’s famous and it’s exciting to say you know Charles Dance. She says she knows Charles Dance because she worked with him and he’s a nice chap. And that’s what I love. She’s lived such a fabulous life and met such fabulous people and done such fabulous things, but she’s never bragging. This is just her life.

Miriam is known for her outspoken views and her use of blue language, and whilst this doesn’t offend me, I was a bit wary of leaving the book in the reach of small children in case it was F word this and C word that. Thankfully, it isn’t. Okay, I still won’t leave it out just in case as there is still some fairly blue language in it, but that’s just her. It’s not used to offend or to make anyone feel comfortable, it’s just a tool she uses to communicate, and it really helps her get her points across in this book.

She may be harsh about some people she’s met along the way, and some work she has done, but on the flip side, she is so tender and caring about her friends, her family and those she loves. I imagine if you were in her friendship group, there would be no nicer company to have.

This is a 400+ page book, which can often feel like a bit of a slog, but I swept through this, laughing and smiling and crying at her story. It took me about 3 days to finish it, and I was holding on to the last pages, desperate for there to be more.

I know she spends a lot of her time about 10,000 miles away in Australia, but I wish to meet her one day. She teaches us all, with all our triumphs and flaws, to be unashamedly ourselves. She is without a doubt, marvellous. And I think I’ve run out of adjectives to describe how much I love her.

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