This is a book which promises much, and falls sadly short in the delivery. Part of this is because of the title. A gentleman's gentleman is a valet or, possibly, a Jeeves-like super-valet. Guy Hunting is variously a silver-pantryman, a footman, a secretary, a shop assistant, an estate agent, a would-be antique-dealer and a companion to a wealthy, titled divorcée. Anything, indeed, but a gentleman's gentleman. In fact, to judge by the way he kisses and tells, he clearly ain't no gentleman at all. All the while, and this is really the heart of the book, he is also a (gentle)man's (gentle)man on the other side of the innuendo - a clearly very active gay man in the liberated sixties and seventies, when guardsmen were available for little more than the price of a drink and excess was a requirement. Hunting is none the worse for that - there is an attractive honesty to his exploration of this side of his personality.
It is a shame, then, that he has chosen to pitch his book as a behind-the-scenes look at Buckingham Palace and Noël Coward's chalet in Switzerland when this part reveals almost nothing new, takes up only about a quarter of the book (if that), and a lot less than that of his life. One is brought to the conclusion that the title is merely there to sell a narrative that otherwise would have made no impression at all on the book-buying public.
The bulk of the book is a recurring betrayal of friendships and secrets that, however titillating they may be (and many of them are), deserved better than to be spread out for all to see, a one-sided monument to a sad need for indiscreet gossip. In the end, they become a somewhat dull recital of how an ex-footman comes to be on first-(nick)name terms with peers, the rich and the famous, and seems to manage to fall out with all of them. As he is never quite accepted by them, it is also rather a sad little story, with little in it to excite much sympathy, and no real sense of a life lived happily. Perhaps one had to have been there...
The book is ill-served by some shockingly sloppy editing. The ending is as bizarre as it is abrupt, and the whole narrative should have been ruthlessly pruned, and given some sense of direction. There are also far too many careless spelling mistakes ("flare" instead of "flair", "Roxborough" instead of "Roxburghe", and so on), so that one has to wonder whether the editor actually read the book with any sort of blue pencil or critical faculties.
This book has its moments, and is told with humour and some style, but it could easily have been so much more.