British comedy-star Everage, nÇe Barry Humphreys, takes us little people into her confidence with this terribly earnest autobiography of an Australian housewife turned megacelebrity— broad but successful buffoonery in the Monty Python tradition. Let's face it, Possums, not everyone is destined for megastardom—but Dame Everage makes if perfectly clear that the signs of greatness hung over her from birth. First, there was the mauve hair, which she modestly colored brown during her young- mother period in Moonee Ponds, the suburb of Melbourne where she grew up. Then there was the quick intelligence that made her captain of her class in school (``I'm sorry but I was''), and, of course, the ``spooky'' karma left over from her former lives as Joan of Arc, Mary Queen of Scots, Lady Macbeth, Florence Nightingale, and Ethel Merman—reincarnations that even the Dame's good friend Shirl is terribly jealous of. And of course the appearance of her stunning ``face furniture,'' the signature butterfly-shaped eyeglasses with the jumbo upsweeps at the corners, didn't hurt her determinedly cheerful image. As the good Dame breathlessly describes her marriage to dear Norman Stoddart Everage, a former department-store clerk destined for 24-hour prostate support; her struggle to find someone to raise her three children properly; her love-hate relationship with her envious bridesmaid and companion, Madge Allsop; and her first encounter with fame as winner of Australia's ``Lovely Mother Quest,'' it becomes clear that Everage's philosophy of simply getting up on a stage and giving her grateful audiences ``a gentle, blow-by-blow description of a housewife's life'' is the key to sold-out performances in London theaters and long, late-night phone conversations with her good friends Liz, Jackie, Marlon, Gore, et al. No Plom's (Poor Little Old Me) Disease here—though readers who haven't yet seen one of Edna's performances may be left a bit bewildered.
Read full book review >