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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
9

on May 10, 2011
The diaries of Noel Coward in this book begin in 1941, continuing through December, 1969. His early years in the theatre and his war diaries have been published elsewhere. In my lifetime, Noel Coward was an icon of theatrical entertainers. Now I realize why, He gave everything of his talents and his time to his professional life and never sold out his own vision of his creations, musically and otherwise. He never envisioned being "profound"; he wanted the light touch, the deft revelations even in domestic comedy. He deplored the "kitchen sink" drama boys when they appeared in England who all seemed to take over and destroy lucidity; audibility; and compassion in the theatre thereafter. Readers will thoroughly enjoy the graceful, revealing and sincere "talking" these annual diaries convey from the mind of Noel Coward. He has a very good friend in himself, one feels. That is quite a feat in itself.

It is apparent reading his diaries- with the fascinating details of the processes- that to him, creating his musicals, his poetry and novels and his plays gave a joy to him in the making. Producing, directing and dealing with the vagaries of his stars and casts was another kettle of fish. He records them all, at their best and worst; most of them had been his friends for years. Reading about his work and weekly social calendars is enough to exhaust the reader; he rarely refused an invitation, and was usually working on a piece at the same time.

He records the joy and progress that he and his close associates made through the world, literally, seeking the perfect house, actually houses, to relax in; eventually, to find the home locales that gave him tax relief from the harsh British tax climate.

It was enchanting to learn he presented the first "special" in color, in the U.S., nationally broadcast in 1955, starring Noel with Mary Martin. Both sang their popular numbers and performed some skits, for 90 minutes, a record in those days. Noel had to restage all the camera work before the performance which was live. The crew had "no idea how to film musical theatre before a camera." The national audience response was ecstatic for this "little box" show of Big Talent. All the reports said they were hungry for the witty, sophisticated & purely lovely talented singers, bright romantic songs and dances. It is sad to realize the public is still waiting for this kind of quality entertainment from television today. 690pp.
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8 helpful votes
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on August 6, 2015
Enjoyed it very much. Reading his daily journal was so much more like a personal account than some of the biographies on Coward that I have read. Wish it had covered even more of his life. I could actually hear his voice thru his entries. Did not want the book to end.
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on January 7, 2015
Bought this as a gift for my wife and she loved it. Full of fascinating details.
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on May 19, 2015
wonderful read, timely shipping!
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on October 27, 2014
fantastic. Insightful without pretention
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on February 2, 2015
Excellant.
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on December 6, 2003
Virtually every person I know has a favorite Christmas tradition, an activity that they perform every year that is theirs and theirs alone, and that sums up the Christmas spirit of peace, good will, and love. For my own tradition, every year at this time, I reread this wonderful book. Why, you may ask? Well, I'll do my best to explain. I received this book as a Christmas present from a dear friend when it was first published in 1982. It quickly became my favorite book, and I find that it both inspires and delights me with every new reread. I was an actor and theatre person for many years, just long enough to discover one truth about Sir Noel Coward: This stylish and elegant man, actor, singer, playwright par excellence, and all around bon vivant, simply knew more about life in general and the theatre in particular than any other person I've ever encountered. Whether dealing with stubborn, recalcitrant actresses who refuse to wear their hair properly (i.e. Mary Martin), or facing the loss of a livelong confidant (his personal secretary, Lorn Loraine), Coward's show of sheer courage, strength, and determination in facing the everyday stresses and strains of life, and with considerable humor and great goodwill, seems to me the essence of the Christmas (and, by extension, the human) spirit. Organized in chapters by the years the diary entries were made (1945 to 1969, with a prologue that covers the World War II years as one section), the book is a very relaxed and enjoyable read (usually, a chapter a night works well), and covers the time period of the years following his initial successes (by the time the entries begin, Coward had already written his best known works: Private Lives, Desigh for Living, Hay Fever, and Blithe Spirit) through the 1950's and the years of abuse at the hands of narrow-minded critics (who considered him too "shallow" and "commercial"), and on through the 1960's and his renaissance period (when many of those same critics found his plays fashionable once again). Through it all, the successes, tragedies and failures, the many, many encounters with the rich and famous (Coward knew virtually every famous person of his day and counted many as lifelong friends), and most of all, the wit and wisdom of one of the most fascinating persons of our time will keep the devoted reader enthralled for all 700 plus pages. I could say much more about The Noel Coward Diaries, but a hundred reviews could not contain it all, so I will close by saying please make this book a present for yourself (and/or someone you love). Trust me, it will be one of the wittiest, most delightful, and truly Merriest Christmases you have ever spent!!!
37 helpful votes
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on January 17, 2012
Just prooves the ONLY reason people with money aren't in jail is because of their "money". The false image&lies about celebrities&leaders true lives are a disgrace this nation lives upon.
1 helpful vote
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on July 2, 2014
Best book I've read. It was from the library, but I had to buy it
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