Review: The Lady In The Van by Alan Bennett

This book was so promising to me!  Who lives in a van for almost 20 years?!?! An old English woman evidently. The movie seemed so intriguing (I still haven’t watched it) and I always think that the book is better than the movie…except in the one case that I didn’t. That will be in another post one day! But The Lady In The Van was a bit of a let down. It was so short, but that isn’t why I was left a bit dissatisfied. The author did a great job of showing us how funny Miss Shepherd was, how totally eccentric she was and just how unreserved she could be. He came at the whole affair with total honesty; talking about how gross it could be, how annoyed he could get, and his inner-most thoughts of the whole situation in having a homeless senior living in a van on his property in Central London. It was a fascination situation and just really begged more questions than answers. There were times when it felt like this woman was the butt of jokes and that the book was for us to laugh at her absurdity, and that felt off. While it was an interesting read, based on true events, and quite humorous, I still felt like Miss Shepherd clearly had mental health issues that I wouldn’t know how to pin-point, and she didn’t get much help other than Alan giving her a place to park her van – which was probably the nicest and most compassionate thing he could do for her.  I wanted to know more about Miss Shepherd. I know that Alan didn’t know much about her and he kept the story sweet and to the point but I want to know more about how she ended up in the van, how she spent her days, and who she really was.


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