Reader Review by cloggie-downunder
“Smut: two unseemly stories” is, as the title suggests, an omnibus of two short stories by English author and actor, Alan Bennett. The first story is The Greening of Mrs Donaldson. Mrs Donaldson, recently widowed, finds herself a little short on cash and decides to take a student couple as lodgers. When they find themselves unable to pay the rent, they come to a novel arrangement with their landlady. Mrs Donaldson’s other source of income is working as a Simulated Patient in medical student training; she becomes so talented at this that the consequences are almost grave. Bennett provides the reader with plenty of laugh out loud moments; the dialogue is oftimes dryly witty and occasionally hilarious. Full of understated British humour.
The second story is The Shielding of Mrs Forbes. When Graham Forbes decides to marry Betty Greene, Muriel Forbes’s objections are manifold: name, age, looks, religion and something else she hasn’t mentioned. Edwards Forbes has no such objections, wondering only if his fastidious son has “done it” with Betty yet. As more of their private lives is revealed (and I found that somewhat reminiscent of Maupin’s Tales of the City), we learn that everyone is intent on shielding Mrs Forbes to safeguard her innocence. According to Alan Bennett, there is a lot more promiscuity in staid British households than you or I were ever aware. Very entertaining.
These two stories are at least as funny as his earlier work, The Uncommon Reader, if in a completely different vein. I really enjoyed them.