I’d heard Robert speaking on the radio about his new book, mentioning gender, depression and coping with loss, something I didn’t expect. I’d watched him in various TV shows and not really thought about Robert the man, rather than the actor.
The autobiography covers a large span of Webb’s life in detail and has the wit and humor that he brings to the television that he creates so well. I would thoroughly recommend getting the audiobook as possible as it makes the whole book come alive, particularly with the impressions of Webb’s family and friend.
This is a man who readily opens up about his faults. He candidly talks about failing his exams at 18, about how he felt he mistreated women in his youth and the fear of turning into his father. This brutal honesty is what makes Webb’s book. There’s no hiding, no excuses from him. That said, we know that there is a lot going on for him as a late teen, such as losing his mother.
Most interestingly, the book focuses heavily on gender expectations, something that Webb didn’t feel he could fit into. While his brothers were loud and boisterous, he preferred to be quiet and play. He found himself lost in what he ‘should’ be, rather than what he was, a sensitive young man who felt a little lost. He speaks candidly about how he didn’t feel he could show emotion openly he was on the cusp of being a man and men didn’t share feelings and talk. Something that lead Webb to a deep depression and almost cost him his place at Cambridge.
In this Webb lays out the ways in which these gender expectations affect both men and women and how toxic they can be to all of us. It was absolutely fascinating to read. Webb talks about his own experiences of having feelings for another boy at a young age and struggling with this and wondering what it meant. Again speaking about what it meant to be a boy, and later a man, and in his background that did not mean falling in love with another boy.
To put it simply this is a story that will promote change. Of course, it’s a very entertaining read, I laughed so much while getting through it but at the same time Webb has managed to bring in big questions about society, while making you feel like you’re having a conversation with a friend. From sexuality, gender norms and mental illness to falling in love, Webb has put his signature twist on the world and made it into, hopefully, an easier conversation to have.
I adored this book and gave it 4.5 stars! If I could change anything I’d want to know a little bit more about his relationship with David Mitchell as we all usually think of Mitchell and Webb together! That said it’s an inspiring and thought provoking read, I’d recommend it to anyone!
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