From Publishers Weekly
Writers labor to come up with lines half as good as those Noël Coward dropped into the mailbox every day—I felt that some sort of scene was necessary to celebrate my first entrance into America, so I said, 'Little lamb, who made thee,' to a customs official. The playwright, actor and songwriter is in fine form in these missives, telegrams and poems (he would rhyme almost anything, even communications to his business manager), presented along with return mail from friends and luminaries. Day (Coward on Film: The Cinema of Noel Coward
) arranges the well-chosen selections in roughly chronological order with some unobtrusive narrative context; at times he spotlights a lifelong correspondence with a single person to flesh out Coward's relationships, such as with Gertrude Lawrence. Coward's voice is charming, whimsical, sharp-eyed and canny, often alternating, in the showbiz way, between effusive warmth (letter to Tallulah Bankhead: Thank you very much, darling, for all your sweetness and your insane generosity) and cutting putdown (letter about Tallulah Bankhead: a conceited slut). A true intellectual of the stage, his comments on the nitty-gritty of writing, pacing, character and acting technique are incisive. Fans of Coward's plays and students of 20th-century theater will be fascinated, but casual readers will also find an entertaining browse. Photos. (Nov. 16)
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"Not your usual epistolary collection. . . . Day has woven Coward's letters into a beautifully rounded text that reads more like a life portrait." —Los Angeles Times
"Glitters with the multi-gifted playwright's claws-out bitchiness, tremendous charm, and creative genius. . . . His letters are absolute knockouts." —Vanity Fair
"Superb. . . . The portrait of a complex, charming, driven, serious and, frankly, courageous artist. . . . History of the most valuable kind." —The Wall Street Journal