Book Review – This Much Is True by Miriam Margolyes

First published, 2021

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

“Life’s like cheesecake: you want to have as much as you can.”
p 155, Heather, This Much Is True by Miriam Margolyes

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t know who Miriam Margolyes was. First as an actress (I think I remember her as Lady Whiteadder in Blackadder first), later as a raconteuse and chatshow favourite, with some of the naughtiest stories and language and the sharpest wit to be found on late-evening telly.

Never afraid to voice an opinion, Miriam Margolyes is uncompromising, a national treasure (quite right, too) and wrote this, her long-awaited memoir at the age of eighty, in lockdown.

Filled with anecdotes, heartache and humour, this book and its author should be protected and, if possible, kept on display behind a velvet rope.

When we lived in Devon, I used to go to a six-monthly regional quiz night in aid of the Rotary Club who, among other causes, have raised a vast amount of money to wipe out polio (something which looks to be achieved in the not too distant). Although a laudable cause, I’ve been known to argue a point, even on charity quiz nights, and especially when the Guinness is flowing.

When Barry (gawd bless Barry, he’s an icon of the Rotary Quiz) asked: “Who played Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter film, The Chamber of Secrets?” I yelled out before anyone else had chance to draw breath, “Miriam Margolyes!” Barry frowned at his answer sheet and shrugged, “I’ll give you that, although the correct answer is Miriam Mar-goll-YES.”

Regardless of the awarded point, I was on my second pint, as well as a mission.

“It’s spelt Mar-gol-yes, but it’s pronounced Mar-gol-ees.” I wish I’d known at the time that it means ‘pearl’ but next time I see Barry, I’ll let him know. In any case, I like to think that MM would approve.

What comes across in this memoir is a fiercely intelligent, humorous, opinionated woman, who has battled to a good age, had friendships and love to balance out some of the harder times, and has never lost herself. A woman of exceptional memory and with a great love for people, and a surprising (to me) background modelling for and entertaining gentlemen.

Like the lady herself, a rare treat.