Joan Bakewell’s thoughtful, moving and spirited memoir left a lasting effect on us here at Virago.
The extraordinary woman has led a varied, sometimes breathless life: she has been a teacher, copywriter, studio manager, broadcaster, journalist, the government’s Voice of Older People and chair of the theatre company Shared Experience. She has written four radio plays, two novels and an autobiography - The Centre of The Bed. Now in her 80s, she is still broadcasting. Though it may look as though she is now part of the establishment – a Dame, President of Birkbeck College, a Member of the House of Lords as Baroness Bakewell of Stockport – she’s anything but and remains outspoken and courageous. In Stop the Clocks, she muses on all she has lived through, how the world has changed and considers the things and values she will be leaving behind.
Here are some of the outstanding reviews we’ve received so far:
‘[Joan Bakewell is] still a fiendishly smart beauty, known and admired for all she has achieved . . . she reinforces my belief that we should find joy in swapping solipsism, regrets and the hurdy-gurdy of juggling marriage, children and work for the less narcissistic business of inner harmony and spending time with our friends. That, surely, is the way to go’
‘Bakewell also has something more and different to say, as she looks back over the truly extraordinary social and technological change she has seen over her life’
‘She is so very likable . . . While Bakewell is content in Stop the Clocks to trace the outlines of her extraordinary career in television and public life, it’s to her beginnings that her thoughts keep turning: a jealous mother, a loving father, a free-range childhood spent where the city met the countryside . . . And though she will take them with her when she goes, their memory will, it seems, remain here, too, elegantly preserved on the page: a testament to a time when social mobility lurked on every book case, and a good girl, a hard-working girl, was not always wasting her time by dreaming’
‘[Bakewell:] the multi-talented Labour peer’
‘[Joan’s] new book is a joy’
‘She is at her best when musing on more concrete and personal questions. She writes perceptively on death… She has lost none of her intellectual curiosity’
‘A summation of the inspiring things that have made Bakewell’s past life interesting’
‘This is a wise book, and if I am a thinking man, Joan is still crempog’