Saturday, 22 June 2013

Mrs. Fry’s Diary: A Humorous Twitter Turned Hilarious Book

A Review By: Amelia
Every wonder if Stephen Fry were straight, what sort of woman he’d marry? What his job would be? What his family would be like? Will it turns out Fry himself also wondered that and decided to write a book all about it. A little narcissistic in truth, but the ever-playful, constant tongue in cheek of Fry is a right delight in the aptly named Mrs. Fry’s Diary.

This is a book born of a Twitter account. When this trend started blooming a couple years back I was aghast. I mean, why turn a blog into a book? Do I care about LOLcatz or Shitmydadsays beyond occasionally reading them online? Did I want them printed and bound and displayed in my library? No, no I do not. The only reason I picked up this book to read it is because it has Stephen Fry’s name on it (not to mention a rather dashing picture of Fry dressed as a proper British lady on the cover).
Now Stephen Fry, for those of you who don’t know, is Britain’s most beloved national treasure. No word of a lie or exaggeration. He’s intelligent, funny beyond belief, upper-class in a lower-class kind of way, he loves to swear (his favourite dirty words being fuck, cunt, and bollocks), and the BBC just can’t get enough of him! He’s traveled the world, loves technology, and has suffered bouts of bitter depression throughout his life and it gives him a distinctive writing voice.

The main character and main plot of this book are completely interlocked: not surprising really, when you write a diary book the writer (the main character in all diaries) has their hand in everything that happens around them. Why would they write a diary if this weren’t the case?

In Mrs. Fry’s Diary, Edna Fry is the main character/main plot. She writes her diary over the course of one
Fry's inspiration for Edna, a character from A Bit of Fry&Laurie
year about her white trash children (one of which is literally the anti-Christ) and her beer-loving, karaoke-singing, ultra-heterosexual, window washing/taxi driving husband Stephen Fry. Mrs. Fry uses her diary to talk about a number of matters including her husband, who she is blissfully unaware is a national treasure among other things, her children who she neglects and forgets about all the time but still loves more than any other mother she knows, and her cooking which always includes SPAM. She’s not an intelligent woman, a caring woman, or an enlightened woman, but she believes herself to be. This kind of character is usually the worst: they’re the kind of character that doesn’t change or evolve and just stagnates while the plot drags on around them. Here though, something miraculous happens: Mrs. Fry is a likable character! Not only that but you want to keep reading what she has to say! Incredible or what?

Fry has written this diary book in such a way that, although Edna has no idea what’s going on, you do. You see through her ignorance (or stupidity if you like) and this actually garners a closer look at her character than you’d think. Does this mean you laugh at her instead of laugh with her? Some of the time. But, of those times, you certainly never laugh maliciously. She’s not a character you’d ever hate but she is a character you feel a little awkward for. I mean, how can she not see the truth about her husband? Mrs. Stephen Fry simply boggles the mind. 

Now, Stephen Fry came up with something brilliant when he decided to make himself heterosexual and married to a nitwit. Although I often feel diary books are a cheap way to get right into the character’s mind without too much fuss, Fry made the right choice to write it as such. Edna Fry is a character all onto herself and some of the diary entries will leave tears in your eyes from laughing so hard.

My final thoughts on Mrs. Fry’s Diary is that this is a good book. Even if you’re not one for the diary genre of literature this book is worth picking up. It’s funny, it’s got an interesting plot (although plot may be too strong a word, idea is probably a better way to describe it), and it has a distinctive voice that is purely Stephen Fry’s. Mrs. Fry’s Diary has given me hope that not everything written on Twitter is a waste of time and that some of it is actually worth investing in.

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