“What did I get from Simon? An education – the thing my parents always wanted me to have.”
Simon was an older man who seduced Lynn Barber when she was sixteen, introduced her to a lot of very unsavory characters and scenes, and ultimately screwed her over mightily. She tells that story, along with details about her childhood, in the opening chapter of her memoir: An Education. It was fascinating — what Simon told her and showed her about a world she’d never encountered; how wholly her family fell for him while Lynn remained unsure; and the consequences of his betrayal (namely, her parents never tried to force their opinions on Lynn again — both good and bad).
Unfortunately, this was merely the opening chapter of the memoir, and the rest, about Lynn’s professional career, her marriage and the death of her spouse, paled in comparison. There’s no doubt that she’s a great writer, and she certainly experienced a lot as a journalist in the sixties and seventies, but a lot of the story came off as name-dropping and bragging.
Later in life, her husband became seriously ill, and as a result, she spends a lot of time examining her relationship with him. “But perhaps this is what goes wrong with long marriages–you state your opinions, your likes and dislikes, at the beginning and then forget to mention when they change”. I found it depressing. It was depressing, obviously: he was very ill, very unhappy, then he died. But her reaction: avoiding the hospital, not following his wishes when it came to notifying family; that depressed me most of all. I guess I should appreciate her honesty, but it makes me sad that she couldn’t rise to the occasion on his deathbed.
Anyway, not a bad read overall, but I can definitely see why they chose to adapt only the story of Simon for the movie.