Join author Lynn Barber for the discussion of our February Book of the Month.. AN EDUCATION (Tue 23 February 8pm)

(90 Posts)

Lynn Barber's memoir, An Education (27 votes), has won our February Book of the Month poll, beating Liz Jenson's The Rapture (25 votes) and Sabrina Broadbent's You Don't Have to Be Good (22 votes).

We'll gather here to discuss the book on Tuesday 23 February, 8-9.30pm.

We're hoping that Lynn will join us for part of the evening and answer questions - will keep you posted.

For those who missed it, here were February's Book of the Month choices (and for anyone new to Bookclub, here's how it works).

sflower Fri 05-Feb-10 13:13:07

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

Can I join in having only seen the film wink?

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 12-Feb-10 17:55:39

Yep, please do. We're hoping (it's not definite yet) that Lynn might be able to join us.

Has anyone read it yet? Think it's safe to say that Lynn wouldn't blanch at bumsex threads on MN.

maryjane71 Sat 13-Feb-10 22:35:58

I've just finished reading it so looking forward to next Tuesday.

PhoebeB Sun 14-Feb-10 16:29:10

Hi there, only just joined Mumsnet. Is it too late to get involved with the Bookclub? Been hearing a lot of things about Barber's new book.

FANTASTIC NEWS - Lynn is going to join us next Tuesday from 8-9pm, and is preparing to answer all your questions. Please do put some advance ones here and we will kick off with those at the beginning of the evening.

Phoebe B, anyone can join in whenever they want - lovely to have you. You too, stealthsquiggle (I haven't caught the film yet so interested to get your angle).

See you all next Tuesday.

BJN Tue 16-Feb-10 16:22:21

Hello Everyone
I am new to mumsnet. It is great to see a book club, and I have just ordered this month's book, hoping to read it in time. My daughter is 15mths old and I am newly pregnant again. I miss adult company and UK life. My husband is english too. We would like to return before our daughter starts school. Until that time I hope mumsnet can help me get through the day. If there are any mums out there living near Paris who would like to meet up please feel free to contact me. Happy reading, and thanks mumsnet.

Great to have you, BJN, hope your book arrives, join us even if it doesn't - Lynn is coming on for a webchat so it will be a very lively evening.

(I will completely understand, though, if you're fast asleep by 8pm, pregnancy and toddlers not being a brilliant mix.)

AnnOdyne Sun 21-Feb-10 10:19:39

Hi Lynn - i loved the book. I roared at the bit where you repeat poems on the phone and in the supermarket.
You do come across as rather unforgiving though emotionally - do you think that is common in your generation? ( thinking of my mother !)

Second question - if you had a daughter in the same sitation you found yourself in with the older man.. how would you have handled it?

Vicarious congratulations for Carey Mulligan's BAFTA for the film, Lynn - how weird is it to watch someone win an award for playing you? grin

champagnesupernova Mon 22-Feb-10 22:26:00

Oooh this IS exciting. Hello Lynn
I have other questions for you too but have a couple of showbizzy ones for starters while it's in my head.

Who were you wearing at the Baftas?
Are you even going to the Oscars?
What do you feel about Walter Kirn's tweets
I haven't seen the film yet (stupid late nights at work and stupid late working husband) but plan to very soon.
grin

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 22-Feb-10 22:37:46

Thanks v much for agreeing to come on, Lynn.

Can I ask how you felt about Nick Hornby writing the screenplay for your book? Did you have any say in the choice of who did it <betrays depth of ignorance about film business> and were you pleased it was Nick?

How closely did you collaborate on the screenplay, if at all?

There seems to be a big nostalgia-fest for the late 50s/early 60s going on culturally at the moment (An Education, A Single Man, Mad Men etc). Do you share that nostalgia?

And what book had the most profound effect on you as a child?

Thanks v much <goes away to think of questions about An Education>.

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 12:09:15

Talk properly this evening, but can you change the bit on my biog where it says I write for the Obs? I moved to the Sunday Times before Xmas.

choosyfloosy Tue 23-Feb-10 12:31:18

Lynn, I adore you and your writing - I spend much too much time scaring myself silly by imagining being interviewed by you. Thank God it will never happen, but I've worked out where we would sit and what to cook and so on.

One of my favourite pieces of yours was about being a judge for the Turner Prize. Do you get invitations for the subsequent Turner exhibitions? Did you see Richard Wright's fresco - did you like it? What's the best way to get an art education, if you are not an artist?

[sorry, that's three if not four questions]

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 23-Feb-10 15:51:56

Hi Lynn, sorry about that. We've removed the link to the biog (we couldn't edit it because not on Mumsnet).

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 19:54:23

Probably am rather unforgiving compared to your generation and of course brought up by parents who had lived through the war and believed in Never grumble!

Dont know what Id have done if my daughters had been seduced by much older men - panicked I guess. I certainly wouldnt have encouraged marriage!

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 19:56:02

wearing Caroline Charles. not going to Oscars.

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 19:58:04

v happy with Nick Hornby's screenplay - I didnt choose him but he chose me, i.e. bought my article. didnt collaborate but he showed me every draft and I made comments.

DutchOma Tue 23-Feb-10 19:58:43

Are you close to your daughters now? Were you when they were growing up?

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 19:59:50

thanks for saying you liked my writing, but cant really give advice about art education because I never had one

Evening all

I am delighted to introduce the award winning journalist and author of our excellent Book of the Month – Lynn Barber.

Lynn, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I thought we could kick off with AnnOdyne’s question, posted earlier:

You come across as rather unforgiving emotionally - do you think that is common in your generation?

If you had a daughter in the same situation you found yourself in with the older man… how would you have handled it?

ginghamgiraffe Tue 23-Feb-10 20:01:07

Wow! Straight in! My clock says 1959!
Hello Lynn
First of all I enjoyed the book very much but am yet to see the film (doesn't get out much emoticon)
What do you think David would have made of all the recent fuss publicity?

Emmmm Tue 23-Feb-10 20:02:03

i've read the book, got here almost on time, but where is Lynn? Am i in the right place?!

giraffe - I have seen the film on a 'plane but haven't yet read the book blush [gets out even less emoticon]

champagnesupernova Tue 23-Feb-10 20:06:56

Caroline Charles
Very lovely!
grin
Did you decline the Oscars?

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:07:06

DutchOma: v close to daughters now and when they were growing up.

Sorry everyone, I crossed posts there. Lynn is here and currently typing as fast as possible.

Lynn, I’ve admired your writing for years. Your style is so crisp and clear. Was it strange to find yourself writing a book again, after years of newspapers? Would you ever write (or have you ever written) fiction?

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:08:22

ginghamgiraffe: David would have been embarrassed by publicity himself, but admired me for doing it.

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:09:57

Tilly: thanks for saying you admired my writing. I did once try to write a novel but realised fiction not my thing.

maryjane71 Tue 23-Feb-10 20:10:43

Generally the book is better than the film, is that the case here? Anyone read the book and seen the film, apart from Lynn?!

If you had taken Beatrix Miller’s offer of assistant to assistant travel editor at Vogue (rather than the Penthouse job), do you think your career would have been dramatically different?

champagnesupernova Tue 23-Feb-10 20:12:58

blush at no one having done both.

Emmmm Tue 23-Feb-10 20:13:48

Apologies - my computer was slow to load up, had the page ready and open since about 5 so hadn't seen your replies Lynn - loved the book - i guess partly because memoir my fave genre, partly cos good writing (not too frilly), but perhaps also could relate to much - you remind me of my mum - (born in same year) and the bit about reciting poetry was particularly something that rang home. I never learnt any poetry off by heart but my mum seems to know loads. Also my mum v keen for us daughters to be sexually liberated, have lots of partners before settling down etc believed best way of settling down with 'the one' was trying plenty out first!

BJN Tue 23-Feb-10 20:13:51

Hi, I couldn't put the book down, I read it compulsively. I was fascinated. I did feel sad and rather depressed about human love, and especially around the chapter about David's death. How unsentimental to the point of uncaring. I am sure I have misunderstood and that you were just projecting an image, not wanting to be the stereotypical wife yet again. But anyway, congratulations on your success.

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:14:19

champagnesupernova: not invited to Oscars, tho I gather I could have been if I had made a fuss. But hate flying to LA

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:15:45

Tilly - yes, and thank god I went to Penthouse rather than Vogue. I learned SO much at Penthouse

champagnesupernova Tue 23-Feb-10 20:15:53

BJN (and Lynn)
that's how I felt
I read it in an afternoon.
I did feel sad and sort of empty at the end.

maryjane71 Tue 23-Feb-10 20:17:14

I finished reading the book last week and had no idea it had been made into a film. It just sounded interesting - and it was. Hope to see the film soon. Is it 'based' on the book Lynn or the real full story?

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:18:30

Emm: like the sound of your mum. but you should learn poetry - just not the rubbish I learned!

Just flagging up earlier questions from GeraldineMumsnet:

There seems to be a big nostalgia-fest for the late 50s/early 60s going on culturally at the moment (An Education, A Single Man, Mad Men etc). Do you share that nostalgia?

And what book had the most profound effect on you as a child?

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:20:29

BJN. thanks for your congrats, but you shouldnt think unsentimental is the same as uncaring. To me, sentimental just means shallow.

Emmmm Tue 23-Feb-10 20:21:56

but is there some accomplishment/useful discipline in itself in being able to recite poetry even if rubbish? Do you think there were aspects in your own education that we have lost today or do you think education is generally better today - more purposeful/practical or is it just a case that education is fitting for our times?

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:22:22

Maryjane: glad you read the book first. the film is based on the 2nd chapter only, about my affair with conman

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:25:05

Tilly and Geraldine: yeah, there does seem to be big early 60s nostalgia and I welcome it because for me it was the period when everything changed.
Book that influenced me as a child was Vanity Fair

I found the chapter on David's illness and death extremely affecting, mostly because it shows how surreal life becomes when our bodies deteriorate, and how one's personality becomes kidnapped by these physical processes. I think I saw it as honest rather than uncaring.

Has your experience of terminal illness and death changed your perspective when you interview your subjects? Do you see humanity differently?

champagnesupernova Tue 23-Feb-10 20:26:04

Lynn
Sorry more mildly showbizzy q's - even though I've not seen the film.
Was it WEIRD watching this interpretation of your life onscreen?

What's been the best and/or coollest thing to come out of having got everything down on paper and now celluloid (iykwim)?

I think I read somewhere you were anxious about the way you portrayed your parents.

maryjane71 Tue 23-Feb-10 20:27:02

Lynn, I thought you were being practical and wailing wouldn't have changed the situation, nobody can say how a spouse should react to the demise of their loved one. Everyone copes in their own way.

SuSylvester Tue 23-Feb-10 20:27:30

My mum says that West Yorkshire was not swinging in the 60s. grin
was it only London?

BJN Tue 23-Feb-10 20:27:38

I would never have thought of sentimental as shallow. Do you feel that marriage is a sentimental act? I have sentimental moments looking back when I dated my husband but is that shallow? It doesn't feel it.

SuSylvester Tue 23-Feb-10 20:28:36

yes my mum "Tears are self pity to a degree"
She born in 1938.

<goes off to therapy>

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:28:40

Emm: actually I do think theres some use in being able to recite or at least remember poetry - my husband could do it by the yard. I often think if I were in prison or on a desert island or something it would be good to know lots of poetry. there is a famous old anthology by ?Wavell? called Other Men's Flowers which is just poems the anthologist, who I think was a WWI general, could remember by heart.

TeaOneSugar Tue 23-Feb-10 20:28:59

Hi Lynn,

I also loved the book, I didn't think I'd finish it time, but it was easy because I couldn't put it down.

Just wanted to say there are some great photos in the book, thanks for sharing them, it was good to be able to put faces to your family and also to set the scene in terms of the fashions and hairstyles of the day.

How did you feel about sharing you photo album with the world?

champagnesupernova Tue 23-Feb-10 20:29:47

I love Vanity Fair
There was a v interesting prog that I half heard on R4 this morning about the current "credit crunch yawn" and how it was mirrored in the crisis after Waterloo
And made me think of Becky Sharp getting by on nothing a year.
I do love her feistiness.

Carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 23-Feb-10 20:30:50

The two parts of the book seem very distinct, the bit that was made into the film and then everything else. I can completely relate to that compartmentalising thing of putting a bad memory away for a long time, but do you think the disastrous affair early on affected the way you related to people for the rest of your life?

Also did the title of the book come easily, or did you agonise over it. Did you have any alternatives?

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:31:47

Tilly: I tried to make the chapter on D's death as honest and detailed as possible because I think a lot of writing about death sentimentalises it and makes it sound all much neater than it is.

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:33:54

SuSylvester - prob only bits of London. the swinging sixties have been much exaggerated!

champagnesupernova Tue 23-Feb-10 20:34:23

blush sorry that was just a lil' reverie by myself.

Carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 23-Feb-10 20:36:15

Completely agree on folks making death sound neat. It's such a shock when you actually watch someone die and it's not like the movies. I still found the end of the book terribly sad, but compelling. Have to admit though I was so relieved that you'd misinterpreted the photo.

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:37:02

Teaonesugar: glad you loved the book, and the pix. I was v pleased to have them published because they were getting all wrinkled and faded.

duffy Tue 23-Feb-10 20:38:41

Hi Lynn, you really seemed to have enjoyed your time in the glory days of Fleet Street - I loved the expenses story when your Editor told you off for claiming too little. How does it all compare to the current hair-shirted, 24-7 days? - have the Sunday Times asked you to use Tweet on Twitter yet? Oh and why did you decide to go back there when you implied in the book that you'd not enjoyed your first spell there?

Thanks,
Ottavia

(also a former LEH girl)

aspinall Tue 23-Feb-10 20:38:50

That is exactly how I felt Carriesmum, when I reached the end of the book- I was so relieved that the photo was 'innocent'.

My mother denies any swinging was happening in her bit of North London - personally I think she doth protest a little too much - and when she met my (raised in Yorkshire) father at Oxford in 196? she had to force him to buy a pair of jeans - he only owned flannels hmm

Lynn - knowing that I have only 'seen' Chapter 2 has duly intruiged me - I am off to Amazon!

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:40:29

Carriemumsnet: the chapter that was made into a film was originally called The Conman, but Granta, who first published it, had had some other article called the Conman so I was forced to change it. But I think An Education is miles better anyway

maryjane71 Tue 23-Feb-10 20:44:07

Lynn, I'd read the 'innocent' photo story before, had even seen the photo before. Was it in The Mail on Sunday a few months ago?

A few more questions from earlier (apologies Lynn if you are already answering):

champagnesupernova: Was it WEIRD watching this interpretation of your life onscreen?

What's been the best and/or coollest thing to come out of having got everything down on paper and now celluloid?

carriemumsnet: do you think the disastrous affair early on affected the way you related to people for the rest of your life?

Also did the title of the book come easily, or did you agonise over it. Did you have any alternatives?

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:44:59

Hi Ottavia - how was LEH in your day? didnt enjoy ST the first time simply bec I didnt like my editor but its OK this time. I thought the Obs was going to suffer death by a thousand cuts, tho actually I was wrong. But NOWHERE in journalism is as lavish as when I started!

champagnesupernova Tue 23-Feb-10 20:45:38

Carrie, me too about the photo.
Although also something very tragi-comical i.e. real life about trying to find a photo SANS lobster

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:47:57

maryjane: yes, the mail on sun published extract

Thinking of Becky Sharp, was she a sort of role model in your early years? (I'm just remembering the moment in the book where you say David is fundamentally 'good', whereas you had learnt to lie due to the relationship with Simon. And also the part where you describe being desperate to sound sophisticated)

duffy Tue 23-Feb-10 20:49:20

Seem to recall a head teacher called Miss Smalley who reeked of booze. But unlike you, I gather, I enjoyed all the sport - your description of lax made me chuckle a lot by the way grin.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 23-Feb-10 20:50:09

Thanks for your answers, Lynn.

What do you reckon to Kindles, the iPad etc? Do you think newspapers and mags will manage to survive the next technological shift? And do you think there's still the same appetite among readers for interviews, now that so many people have their own blog, websites etc?

(And do you prefer mags or novels for reading in the bath?)

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:51:15

Tilly: not weird seeing it on screen because Id read all Nicks drafts beforehand and knew about the changes from my story. But seeing my school recreated was a bit weird.

One last literary question: which living writer do you enjoy most?

maryjane71 Tue 23-Feb-10 20:51:48

How old were you in the photo on the cover of the book? I guessed about 15 but there is a glass of red there!

Emmmm Tue 23-Feb-10 20:52:31

It's good being reminded of bits of the book (like the lobsters!)- i read it a few weeks ago and so it's not as fresh. I was quite shocked about the lunches/expenses stuff. Having recently read another very thin book by i can't remember who (emails to her freinds as she was dying from cancer with twins), i thought her husband wrote very honestly and refreshingly about her dying and the distance between them etc which came back into my head when you wrote about david's illness. The worst part of your book was that it was so slim - read it in just two days (with 9 month baby) - guess i wanted even more. Will you do a Diana Athill and write more meomoir as you get older?

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 23-Feb-10 20:54:27

Hi Lynn, loved the book and the movie too which I saw before reading it. Who was it who spotted the potential of that chapter - had it been separately run in Granta?

It's amazing how Nick Hornby fleshed it out into a movie, I think don't you? You say that you had the nous to put a clause in the contract allowing you to comment over the script. Does that mean there was a lot of to and fro/ revisions then? How long did it take? It must be hard letting someone else do the writing when you're a writer yourself, did you at times just want to grab the thing and re-write it in your own words?

(Thanks so much for coming on).

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 20:57:29

Tilly: probably Philip Roth now so many of the other great Americans have died.
Must sign off now because my computer is getting slower and slower, and I have to do something else at 9.
you didnt ask my favourite biscuit! anyway it is chocoleibnitz dark.
Thank you v much to everyone - that was good fun

maryjane71 Tue 23-Feb-10 20:59:05

Thanks to you Lynn, looking forward to your column(?) in the ST this Sunday.

SuSylvester Tue 23-Feb-10 20:59:15

ooh i like a leibnitz
I come over all "Kaffee und Kuchen gemutlich" when i have one.

Lynn, thank you very much indeed for coming on and thanks too for a brilliant book. Look forward to reading whatever is coming next (and fingers crossed for a gold statuette).

TeaOneSugar Tue 23-Feb-10 21:00:11

Thanks Lynn.

LynnBarber Tue 23-Feb-10 21:02:06

Justine - thanks, and it was Nick Hornby who spotted the Granta piece. I was v happy to let him write it - I occasionally made small suggestions but nothing more - must go now. thanks to everyone.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 23-Feb-10 21:03:05

Thanks very much for coming on, Lynn. Do come back any time you fancy (to answer my question grin).

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 23-Feb-10 21:06:04

Oh there you go, you came back and answered my question - thank you again! And do stop by any time.

Apologies to all those whose questions weren't answered, Lynn had told me beforehand that her computer isn't the fastest.

champagne/carrie: wanted to add how relieved I was too about the innocent photo. It would have been one hell of a bleak ending otherwise.

elkiedee Tue 23-Feb-10 22:01:02

I missed the discussion again, no surprise there, was upstairs settling baby and then staying in the bedroom with him for a wee while.

I enjoyed the book too, probably the chapters on her journalistic career including Penthouse were the most fun to read (even though I don't really approve of porn magazines). And I didn't find the last part cold, it was a complete contrast with what had preceded it and it was very sad, but quite matter of fact. I think it's quite impressive to set it out so clearly among so much sadness, and possibly some anger - some aspects of his hospital care right at the end were a bit worrying.

I would have liked to see her answer the question about education, but think that what happened to her with the end of her school education was appalling, and was relieved that she managed to sit her exams and get out to college anyway. I don't know if some private schools would still have that much power, but hope that schools wouldn't be so quick to try and kick someone out.

squeaver Wed 24-Feb-10 08:19:34

Wow, she was fab.

oh bum,missed it

MrsPotiphar Sat 27-Feb-10 22:18:46

wel i wish i had seen the movie first and then ahd the webchat.

grrr

Lynn - what happened to " david" after he and you finished.
what do you think ( in hindsight) was his plan - would he have committed bigamy?

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