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The Letters of Noel Coward (Diaries, Letters and Essays) Paperback – 19 Sep 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Methuen Drama (19 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408106752
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408106754
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 4.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 223,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A wonderful volume.'
-- Publishing News

From the Publisher

Deliciously insightful, witty, perfectly bitchy, wise, loving and often surprisingly moving, this extraordinary collection gives us Coward at his crackling best. A sublime portrait of a unique artist who made an indelible mark on the 20th century, from the Blitz to the Ritz and beyond. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mr. R. D. M. Kirby on 7 Jan. 2008
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed The Noel Coward Diaries, edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley and therefore I was looking forward to reading some more of The Master's barbed quips in the book, edited by Barry Day.

In fact, there was much of it that I did enjoy, but I was really not prepared for so many letters written to Coward, as opposed to from him. I really would have preferred the letters to have been in chronological sequence, instead of lumping the correspondence to Gertie Lawrence altogether in one chapter. It is rather confusing when it is not made immediately clear who is sending a letter to whom, especially when nicknames are used to start and/or finish - or indeed, when no reference is made at all.

But this is criticism of the editing, not the letters by Noel Coward which are everything the reader would expect; sharp, very amusing and brilliantly composed. A book which can be dipped into, time and time again.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Nov. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Granted, some very fine biographies have been written, those that seem to paint seamless portraits. Yet, for this reader nothing can compare to someone's letters, written with no thought that they will ever be read by anyone save the recipient. These letters are mirrors, if you will, of a person's thoughts and emotions. They are in the person's own words - every adjective, nuance, inflection is his or her choice. And when the choices are Noel Coward's, it is pleasurable reading indeed.

Urbane, witty, snippy, multi-talented, observant, caring, Coward had talent to spare. He was a songwriter, playwright, actor, artist, bon vivant, advisor, trusted friend. And such friends they were - from Marlene Dietrich to the Queen Mother to Somerset Maugham to Liz Taylor (whom he once described as being "hung with rubies and diamonds and looking like a pregnant Pagoda."

His quick wit was always razor sharp, used both to bolster and skewer. When his old friend Clifton Webb lost his mother, Webb was evidently given to prolonged crying bouts which caused Coward to comment, "It must be rough to be orphaned at seventy-one."

His jests and jibes made him a wanted guest and sought after companion. Many of these witticisms are contained in this delightful compendium of letters both from and to Coward. Thoughtfully arranged by Barry Day they are a chronicle of Coward's life from his earliest days when at the age of two he had to taken from church because he danced in the aisle to accompany the hymn being played. He faithfully sent a weekly missive to his mother, Violet. Thus, we're privy to what life was like for child actors at the turn of the century. During this period he met the 15-year-old Gertrude Lawrence who would play a large part in his professional life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bonzo on 4 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
Not as witty as one might have hoped, but that's the luck of the draw.
What makes these letters extremely disappointing is the very poor editing job - as pointed out by other reviewers. Good photographs, but spoiled by captions which simply, and irritatingly, repeat information already given in the text. Worst of all, wrong factual information provided as background to the letters e.g. Anthony Eden did not resign at the time of the Munich Crisis, he'd done that over six months earlier; it is now very much disputed that the bombing of Coventry was accepted by the British government as the price for keeping the Enigma secret secure. I could go on. Sloppiness which makes reading these fairly hum-drum letters a frustrating experience.
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By s.m.a.,mann on 27 May 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a read! Took me a long time, but well worth it. anyone slightly interested in Noel Coward should read this...what an
insight into his life, loves and hates. Brilliant writing and hilarious poems. Loved it, loved it.
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