And Furthermore by Judi Dench (2010)
In the preface to this book Judi Dench is quick prepare the reader for what to expect in the following pages, “I do not consider this an autobiography. I have neither the time nor the skill to write one…”, are the first words you’ll read when you pick up this title. And Dench is not wrong, as And Furthermore is much too cursory and incomplete to be considered a proper or definitive biography. Written in casual, conversational and informal prose, And Furthermore reads more like a transcript from one long interview with Judi Dench. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Dench is an acting powerhouse who has had a successful and fruitful career, so she is certainly a subject worthy of her own book and even mediocre material about her career and life experience is going to be worth reading in my opinion.
That said, And Furthermore is pretty insubstantial and Dench is disappointingly reticent when it comes to discussing her personal life (“On a film you have to have to sit and answer questions about what you think of the part, why you wanted to play the part, and I think that’s none of the public’s business. Why should you know the ins and outs of everything?”, she writes in the books last chapter). While I can respect Dench’s desire to keep some things private, this unfortunately doesn’t make for the most compelling or juiciest reading. That said, the book is short and the conversational tone makes it easy to burn through in a day or two. Plus I am grateful to this book for giving me an idea of the bigger picture of Dench’s career (going into this book I was primarily familiar with her screen work, so I learned a lot from this book about her work on stage). In sum, And Furthermore will appeal to those looking for a quick light read, though those looking for profound insight into what makes Dench tick should simply move along (or lower their expectations going into this thing).