The Clothes They Stood Up In by Alan Bennett

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The Ransomes had been burgled. "Robbed," Mrs. Ransome said. "Burgled," Mr. Ransome corrected. Premises were burgled; persons were robbed. Mr. Ransome was a solicitor by profession and thought words mattered. Though "burgled" was the wrong word too. Burglars select; they pick; they remove one item and ignore others. There is a limit to what burglars can take: they seldom take easy chairs, for example, and even more seldom settees. These burglars did. They took everything.

This swift-moving comic fable will surprise you with its concealed depths. When the sedate Ransomes return from the opera to find their Notting Hill flat stripped absolutely bare—down to the toilet paper off the roll (a hard-to-find shade of forget-me-not blue)—they face a dilemma: Who are they without the things they've spent a lifetime accumulating? Suddenly the world is full of unlimited and frightening possibility. But just as they begin adjusting to this giddy freedom, a newfound interest in sex, and a lack of comfy chairs, a surreal reversal of events causes them to question their assumptions yet again.

The Ransomes' bafflement is the reader's delight. Alan Bennett's gentle but scathing wit, unerring ear for dialogue, and sense of the absurd make The Clothes They Stood Up In a memorable exploration of where in life true riches lie.


About Alan Bennett

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Alan Bennett is a renowned playwright and essayist whose screenplay for The Madness of King George was nominated for an Academy Award. He lives in London, England.
Published March 15, 2001 by Random House. 176 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Clothes They Stood Up In

Kirkus Reviews

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Middle-aged and childless Mr. and Mrs. Ransome live quiet lives in their London apartment—until one night, coming home from the opera (Così fan tutte—Mr. Ransome adores Mozart), they find that every stitch, scrap, and piece of their belongings have been stolen, down even to the very toilet paper ...

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Publishers Weekly

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The burglary liberates her personality, allowing her to inch cautiously toward new interpersonal connections--first with an Asian grocer, then with the man who, the Ransomes eventually discover, has been living with their furniture and clothing in a storage facility, then with another man who hol...

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Entertainment Weekly

Now here's a darkly comic story perfect for the new era of economic downsizing: Bennett's wee little fable (literally -- the book's got the dimensions of Thin Thighs in 30 Days) celebrates the brave, frightened, constricted, plucky Englishness of middle-class, middle-aged Mr. and Mrs. Ransome...

Feb 16 2001 | Read Full Review of The Clothes They Stood Up In

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