Thursday, 11 August 2011

Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse

Billy is a big liar whose pants are on fire. Sometimes he lies to get himself out of trouble but most of the time he does it for no reason at all. He tells his best friends mother that he has a sister called Sheila(he doesn't) he embellishes it by giving Sheila a husband Eric. Sheila and Eric have two children, one of whom was born with a twisted foot which was thankfully operated on by a Dr Ubu in Leeds. Billy's friends mother is now giving Billy toys to give to these fictitious children.

Billy is a teenager stuck in a fictional northern English town, he hates his life and when he isn't dreaming of going to London he spends his time escaping into a fantasy world in his head called Ambrosia where he is Prime Minister.

At first Billy's antics are amusing but as the book goes on it is apparent that although Billy believes he is smarter than everyone else, the fact is that everyone sees right through him, he is not always a nice person either. The whole tale climaxes at the end when he is standing on a platform deciding whether to leave for the ever elusive London or stay and confront his problems. That's not a spoiler, the spoiler would be telling you his final decision.

This book is often funny and its the comic elements that will likely stay with me, its an original book and Billy is a great, complicated character. Worth reading.

On a final note, considering it was published in the 1950s its amazing to see how little teenagers have changed,

'You decided to get up, then,' my Mother said, slipping easily into he second series of conversations of the day. My stock replies were 'Yes', 'No, I'm still in bed', and a snarled 'What does it look like?' according to my mood. Today I chose 'Yes' and sat down to my boiled egg, stone cold as threatened.

Posted by Jess


  1. Yeah, I don't believe that teenagers are worse now than ever before. They've always been bad :P

    Are you enjoying Alone in Berlin? I've owned it for a while but not read it yet...

  2. I agree that teenagers have not really changed that much since the fifties, however I doubt you would find many sitting down to a boiled egg for breakfast. Keith Waterhouse created a great character with Billy Liar.