The Blurb On The Back:
Susan Calman’s enthusiasm and happiness at being on <u>Strictly Come Dancing</u> was an inspiration to all of us. Cheer Up Love, Susan’s first book, had a clear aim: to help people understand depression. Sunny Side Up has a similarly clear path: to persuade people to be kinder to each other and spread more joy.
These are extremely difficult and confusing times – people are cross and shouty. It’s exhausting! But more than anything, people like Susan, people who don’t hate other people, are apologising for the way they think. Susan wants to make sure that they don’t.
She wants them to know that it’s ok to love people, that kindness and community are wonderful and brilliant, and to bring on the joy in the little things in life and help defeat the hate and fear.
Susan is a one-woman army of hope and joy, and she’s ready to lead the nation in a different direction.
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
Susan Calman is a corporate lawyer-turned-comedian who appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2017. In this book, which refers heavily to her Strictly experiences, she urges readers to practice kindness and thereby bring joy to themselves and others. It’s not the deepest of messages but I liked the wry, at times pointed, humour she deploys when sharing her experiences and making her arguments and I hope that it brings her more fans.
I picked up this book because I’m a fan of Susan Calman generally through her Radio 4 show and her appearances on QI so I know that I like her style of humour, which is very much present in her conversational writing style.
The book itself draws heavily on her experiences on Strictly, which clearly meant a lot to her and which she got a lot from. I have to say that I don’t watch Strictly because it’s not my kind of thing, so I wasn’t that engaged by her descriptions of being on the show or her friendship with Kevin but I did empathise with her descriptions of the worries she had about being on the show. I think a lot of people can relate to her concerns about how people would react to her body shape (especially her account of working with the costume designers when she wanted to dance as Wonder Woman) and her frustrations at not picking up on steps well or the criticism she apparently had, which meant she was frequently in the bottom 2 (which could lead to elimination). I also liked the way she responds to those who criticised her for going on the show and dancing with a man when she’s a lesbian and apparently “should” have wanted to dance with a woman and I admired the way she recounts examples of when she’s had her own perceptions challenged – my favourite being her account of when she went to America to work as an death penalty appeals lawyer – and how meeting people on Death Row challenged why she thought as she did.
It’s difficult to argue with the message that people should be kinder to each other and to themselves and I certainly think that Calman makes a good case for it and I do not disagree with her point about turning to kindness in a world where anger and resentment seem to be the default emotions. She gives plenty of examples of how to demonstrate kindness and I particularly liked the way she includes tweets from audience members to one of her stand-up tours, which describe their experiences in receiving and giving kind acts.
All in all, this is a pleasant way to spend a few hours and I look forward to reading what Calman writes next.
Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.