Today is International Women’s Day.
In 2005, Ebury Press in London published Scottish comedienne and unique Force of Nature Janey Godley’s autobiography Handstands in the Dark in hardback.
It became an immediate No 3 Bestseller in Scotland.
In 2006, it was published in paperback and became a Top Ten Bestseller in the UK.
That same year, it was the WH Smith Book of The Month and was voted Favourite Read of 2005 by listeners of BBC Radio 4’s Open Book series.
It has never been out of print since then.
But last week, on World Book Day, Penguin Books re-issued it with a new cover and with a new Introduction by Janey.
Penguin are soon to release an audiobook of Handstands in the Dark, read by Janey herself.
Personally, I think her autobiography is up there at the apex of horror writing with Edgar Allan Poe – except that Janey’s terrifying tales are real.
Just when you think the horrors of her life can get no worse, you turn over a page and they do.
Below are excerpts from some of the reviews her book received when it was first published…
“The utterly compelling autobiography Handstands in the Dark has become a word-of-mouth phenomenon… un-putdownable… the writing is sensationally good”
“Against all odds, she has turned her life story into an inspirational book”
“From the first page… Janey Godley, a natural storyteller, has you in her grip… Hair-raising… mesmerising.”
(Glasgow Evening Times)
“A remarkably engaging and fluently written memoir of a life that makes the McCourt family look like the Von Trapps”
“Makes Frank McCourt’s story look like a walk in the park. This is a harrowing but really readable book.”
(‘Good Morning’ – TV New Zealand)
“A natural storyteller… For someone so refreshingly gobby, it’s hard to imagine how she ever kept the secret that she did.”
“Her enthusiasm and sheer optimism have helped her survive life’s cruellest blows where others might have crumbled.”
“A life that would try the patience of a saint… it’s doubtful you’ll be able to choke back the tears.”
“I found myself laughing… and crying.”
“A fantastic book. You will keep turning those pages. You do cry and you laugh and it’s raw. No punches are pulled… but it’s absolutely not a ‘poor me’ book.”
(Janice Forsyth, BBC Radio Scotland)
“Rather than a bleak cautionary tale, her story is exhilarating, uplifting and often extremely funny. Ultimately it’s a testament to the extraordinary endurance of the human spirit…. She’s brave and honest enough to reveal her innermost emotions and it’s this raw sincerity that gives her streetwise revelations such savage bite… It’s a distressing yet life-affirming read.”
“Gothic biography… Amid such dark subjects it’s easy to forget that Godley is very much a limelight sort of woman. Not just courageous but mouthy and irrepressibly funny… Harrowing but life-enhancing.”
“A disturbing but ultimately uplifting true account of overcoming a traumatic childhood in Glasgow.”
(‘Open Book’ – BBC Radio 4)
“Vividly evoked… no punches-pulled… relieved by innate good humour and unflagging optimism.”
“She is making waves with her hard-hitting autobiography.”
(Mail on Sunday)
“Genuinely compelling… she deserves the sales.”
“I just couldn’t put it down. I don’t think I’ve read many books that quickly. Her story followed me around the whole time – it was as if I was living it..”
(Nicholas Parsons – Sunday Times)
“The word ‘unique’ has been repeatedly used about her and was only strengthened by the publication of her astoundingly honest, blood-spattered autobiography.”
(Mensa New Zealand magazine ‘Menzed’)
“Written with… an astonishing generosity towards so many, this is a disturbing, moving and authentic book, which can demand to be read in one sitting.”
“This is Janey’s life story and it’s gripping stuff!”
(OK magazine – Hot Stars)