It is literally years since I received a book for Christmas and was able to actually read it between Christmas and New Year – although in this case I actually finished it a couple of days into 2022, making it my first finished read of the year.
Miriam Margolyes is one of those national institutions that pretty much everyone knows from something she’s done, but I don’t think many of us actually realise just how much she has packed into her lifetime. She’s told some wonderful tales on the Graham Norton show, I’ve seen her in documentaries about exploring Australia and tracing some of her roots in Scotland, and she’s also famous for breaking wind in an ad break on ITV’s This Morning, but that really is just scratching the surface.
Written in Miriam’s unique, straight to the point style, This Much is True gives a wonderful insight into her early life in London and Oxford before Miriam takes us to Cambridge with her where she feels her life gained much of the direction and shape it has since followed.
There is no doubt that Miriam Margolyes was destined to be a performer, but This Much is True really shows all the hard work that has gone in over the years to make her the household name that she is today. I knew she’s done a fair bit of theatre work before, but I had no idea about the amount of radio and voice-over work that filled her early working years. I’m also intrigued to see if I can find some of her appearances in old BBC radio dramas as delving into YouTube for some of the old adverts that she voiced is fascinating, especially as on some you simply wouldn’t recognise her voice at all. I hadn’t realised that she was Dolly one of the PG Tips chimps, or the Cadbury Caramel Bunny.
With Jewish parents, Miriam now describes herself as a non-religious Jew, but it’s very clear that the Jewish faith is a huge part of who she is, and as you read about her life you can see where it has influenced many of the decisions she’s taken in life. Reading this in parallel with watching the BBC’s excellent dramatisation Ridley Road has made me realise just how little I know about Judaism, and that’s something that I feel I need to rectify.
Anyone who is familiar with Miriam on TV chat shows or in print interviews will know that she is a woman who can shock, and it’s no surprise that her autobiography shocks some more, although nearly always in a way that makes you laugh too. She is downright crude in parts, and that may not be some people’s cup if tea, but that’s just part of who Miriam Margolyes is, and she’s very unapologetic about it.
This Much is True is quite simply one of the best autobiographies I’ve read in a long time, and sadly it makes Grace Dent’s Hungry look rather pedestrian in comparison. If you’ve ever chuckled along with Miriam when you’ve seen her interviewed then I definitely recommend you read it.
This Much is True by Miriam Margolyes is available to buy online here. At the time of writing (January 2022) it is only available in hardcover (or on Kindle), but if you have audible (or a free trial for audible) then you can listen to it for free as your book of the month, and as an added bonus you get Miriam herself reading it to you too.
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