Top positive review
47 people found this helpful
Probably ought to be the standard
on 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.