Saturday 5 March 2022

Book Review: This is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch by Tabitha Carvan (Non-Fiction)

Title: This is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch
Author: Tabitha Carvan
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 2 March 2022
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

If you feel that sense that there is something missing from your life, some gap between who you are on the inside and who you are on the outside - then this is the book for you.

This is, as the title says, not actually a book about Benedict Cumberbatch.

In fact, it's a book about women and what we love, about what happens to women's passions after we leave adolescence and how the space for joy in our lives is squeezed ever smaller as we age, and why. More importantly, it's about what happens if you subvert that narrative and simply love something like you used to.

Drawing upon her personal experience of unexpectedly falling for the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch while stuck at home with two young children, Carvan challenges the reader to stop instinctively resisting the possibility of experiencing pleasure. Hers is clarion rallying cry: find your thing, whatever it may be, and love it like your life depends on it.

Funny, intelligent, transporting and liberating, this book is a total joy.


When I first saw This is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch on NetGalley, I skimmed over it, the cover making me instantly label it as chick-lit, which is not a genre I actively read, so I didn't bother looking at the blurb, even though Benedict Cumberbatch's name on the cover caught my eye. Then, a couple of days ago, I received an email from the publisher listing new releases, and this book was there, with the blurb below it. Instantly, I realised this was indeed a book for me, so I rushed back to NetGalley, thinking that if it was still available for request I was definitely meant to read it. It was, and I was pre-approved, so I took that as a sign and started reading that very night.

This book was perfect for me, because it is highly connected to my personal experiences. I am in my late 30s (I prefer that to 'nearly 40'!), but I get very passionate about things that interest me, be it a new musical, or an actor I've fallen in love with and whose backlist I am now tearing through, while Googling pictures and GIFs etc. I own my interests and generally don't try to hide them, although I might tone down my enthusiasm a little at work, just to be professional. However, it does still upset me when, in return, I get comments like "How old are you? You're not a teenager anymore", as if the moment I turned twenty I was no longer supposed to get excited about anything. I don't have kids like the author of this book, but I do have work, a household to run, chores to do etc. and I don't have as much time for myself as I used to. So, when I can 'play', why shouldn't I enjoy myself with something I love?

This is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch showed me I am not the only one who feels this way, and I think it is a wonderful book for those who still perhaps feel ashamed or worried about their passions and interests. It is full of insightful comments and some wonderful moments of humour, and whether you are out about your loves or still keep them in the closet, I think you would get something out of reading this work, even if it's just to see that you are not alone. This book gets five stars from me. It was both fun and uplifting, and it was exactly what I needed after a busy period at work lately which had left me feeling flat and a bit down.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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