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VINE VOICEon January 14, 2004
Nearly eight years after its publication, and almost five since the (relatively) highly observed centenary of Noël Coward's birth, I'm amazed to see that I'm apparently the first person to review this biography on Amazon.com. When I first read it several years ago, I was struck by Hoare's thoroughness, his dispassion, and his wide-ranging research. While this book may not be flawless, it's certainly good enough, I believe, to be the current standard biography of the man.
Despite Coward's reputation as the quintessence of high-class sophistication and airy panache, Hoare shows how the man was shaped by his distinctly unglamorous childhood. His days as a hard-working child actor are thoroughly explored, as are his relationships with colleagues, lovers, competitors, and friends. While not prurient, Hoare clearly loves a good story, and doesn't mind dealing dish (as they say) on his subject when he has one to tell.
Though not really a devotee of theater generally, I am a fan of Coward's. Having read a few titles about the man, I don't hesitate to say this is the best of the lot. Whether you're a student of the man or a casual acquaintance who wants to know more about one of the outstanding talents of the last century, Philip Hoare's biography is a resource to read, enjoy, and keep close to hand.
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on January 5, 2007
Philip Hoare has compiled the most complete of all the Coward biographies and I think I have read them all save Cole Lesley's. Hoare points out dramatically what a complicated personality Coward was and how his sexual orientation impacted his talent and his fame.

I worked with Coward late in his life (1960/61) and knew only his celebrity. His autobiographies and most of the other bios dealt only on that level. It took Hoare and the passage of time to reveal the more complicated and private side of his amazing life.

I will always cherish my brief encounter with the Master.
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on July 25, 2013
Phillip Hoare is probably the finest biographer writing today. The man is meticulous, brilliant, and accurate - the latter quality that is sadly absent from many of the books written about Noel Coward and all the fabulous English theater people who worked with him.
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on May 24, 2016
A good read and covers a lot of the historical context in which he wrote. Amazing how many authors and actors were contemporaries. I found it helpful in working on my own stage performance of some of his numbers and in understanding the plays which he wrote.
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on April 9, 2015
A witty, excellent biography. Philip Hoare is the best.
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on September 27, 2015
Very enjoyable.
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on November 4, 2014
Got halfway through this tome and enjoyed reading about his childhood and family. However, at a certain point, the book just became an uninteresting listing of all the famous people he met for the rest of his life.
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on June 1, 2013
You can buy a print edition of this book for less than a dollar. Why the publisher decided to have no text-to-speech on this book, I have no idea. People who buy Kindle books assume there is text-to-speech. I believe it is dishonest for Amazon to bury this information in the book's description.
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