You really mustn’t miss Laura Thompson’s brilliant The Last Landlady: An English Memoir...This is a wonderfully observed story about female agency in the postwar period, complete with a generous slash of Estée Lauder lipstick, a little light leopard print and a permanent fug of Benson & Hedges
...this memoir is informed by a deep sensitivity. It also captures with extraordinary vividness what “proper” pubs are, and why people who prize them mourn their loss... Such places have a casual profundity. The proper pub is not just about revelry, Thompson suggests; it “accommodates the miserable, the misfits, those who are in their seats at curtain up, having nothing in their lives to make them late”. And it does so without patronizing them.
Laura Thompson offers us a lyrical portrait of a fast-vanishing way of life and why it cannot be sustained in a world of Instagram, iPhones and gluten-free certainties... Thompson is a terrific writer, and her detailed evocation of the day in the life of the pub...has all the visual richness and emotional power of a Terence Davies film... The Last Landlady is any number of love letters to any number of things...but it is, more than any of these, a celebration of a singular kind of female independence...
There are other elements to this memoir of the perfect English pub and its perfect landlady — a bit of literary history, a bit of social history, a bit about the very sorry fact that pubs such as this and pubs in general are disappearing so quickly — closures are now happening at up to 30 a week. But it’s the intense evocation that occupies most of this book. This is impressive in its way but, rather like watching a footballer who’s great at keepie-uppie — one thousand, four hundred and fifty-five, one thousand, four hundred and fifty-six, one thousand four hundred and fifty-seven — it’s all just too samey, despite the talent on relentless display.