I have recently invested in a Kindle as part of an aspiration to travel a bit more lightly. The conversion will take some time but here is the first marker – this memoir is the first that I have read on the ‘neat’ and ‘light’ tablet. A great start helped by an amazing story vividly and honesty told. Margolyes is just wonderful and she takes her reader into her heart, her fragilities, her joys and burdens. It is a breathtaking movement through eight decades. Nothing is taboo. Most is revealed.
I don’t think I have ever laughed out loud so often with a book. Here is an actress whose career is blossomed in later years but is brutally candid about the horrors ( for her ) of old age. It is a memoir full of thankfulness which offers her the chance to put a few scores right. Never unkind but always true to herself – a rare human quality.
Born in 1941, only child of second-generation Jewish immigrants, Margolyes is testimony of what is possible when a Mother believes in her children. She describes her blissful childhood, schooling in Oxford and university life in Cambridge with energy and enthusiasm. From an early age the desire to make an impact and entertain become her charism that carries her through the ups and downs of life. Nothing (and I mean nothing) is censored! I adored the way she describes people – her heartfulness is astonishing in its goodness and love.
We are taken on a journey of her acting career and its joys and frustrations. She is modest both about her reach and achievements. She names the frustrations and disappointments. An encourager she always names the qualities of those she has worked with. In all of this she charts her journey of love and identity with courage and care. Her partner of over fifty years, Helen, is and remains a rock and harbour of stability. Margolyes is faithful to her Jewish roots that shapes her life and culture. Her chapter on Israel/Palestine is searing and influenced by a passionate belief in dignity and justice. Here is a fabulous human being unafraid of being vulnerable – her battle with weight and embrace of the fragilities of old age ( she expresses this rather more vividly) and death reinforce her integrity and character.
In a recent interview Margolyes comments ‘I feel alive at the moment, and a memoir is just the obituary you write yourself’ – I promise you that these chapters will bring you alive. Miriam Margolyes – thank you from this reader. You are wonderful, just wonderful. Onwards.
This Much is True Miriam Margolyes John Murray Press 2021