Fame, Fat and Flatulence

How much is true? That is the question.

When visiting the theatre there is a simple test of quality. Note the number of minutes that have elapsed between the start of the show and the moment when there is the first inclination to check the time. The higher the number, the better the show. It’s a reliable test. A similar process can be used when reading book, only instead of minutes, it is a matter of pages. The first time I looked at the page number while reading This Much is True was on page 163. That was a very good sign. The indication was true. This is a very good read.

The book is very well written. The use of the English language is exemplary. That quality is one held dear by the author. She writes as she speaks: admirably, accurately, adeptly, clearly and effectively, but the one attribute that sets her on an even greater elevation is her unmitigated honesty. She tells it as it was, and how it should have been, and whether either of those things actually matter. It is that trueness that is the real worth of this book.

There is a difference between an author and a celebrity with a book deal. Margolyes may be considered the latter but, in truth, she is the former. There is no hint of a ghost hand here. The voice is authentic in both senses. It sounds like her and it says what only she could, and only she would.

There is no holding back. There may have been things that discretion decreed should have been left out, but what is in there is fully exposed. There is much celebration, admiration, and where it is justified, even adulation, but here is also stark denigration, excoriation and condemnation . Lots of famous performers find their way into this memoir and Margolyes says exactly what she thinks of them. The balance and honesty that pervades every paragraph is such that it all sounds entirely convincing.

Even more persuasive is that fact that she reflects on herself with the same clinical brutality. ‘Fat’ is her choice of descriptor. She employs it effusively when describing her appearance. She doesn’t like it but makes no attempt to disguise it. Flatulence also gets a frequent outing.

I laughed out loud many times whilst reading this most entertaining account, but there is much to ponder on here too. Margolyes is thought-provokingly pertinent on many aspects of her profession, and equally candid when discussing family, sexuality, love, religion, politics, heritage, and her titular topic: truth.

When faced with the title This Much is True, the inevitable question is: how much? Just how much here is true?

The honesty of the text leaves no doubt: all of it.

This Much is True by Miriam Margolyse is published by John Murray. ISBN: 978-1-529-37988-4

. . . . but what is truth? as Lucius Pontius Pilate almost certainly never said, at least not under the circumstances disseminated as ‘gospel truth’. But that’s a topic for another time. . .

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