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Redeeming Features Paperback – 4 Nov 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (4 Nov 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009954623X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099546238
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 89,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Gloriously entertaining" (Sebastian Shakespeare Tatler)

"Nicky Haslam has known everyone from Greta Garbo to Cole Porter to the Royal Family, with many unforgettable eccentrics in between. But this is not a catalogue of celebrities. It is a truly felt, beautifully crafted , wise consideration of a full life, which paints an unforgettable picture of a vanished England and America. Masterpiece is an overused word, but this Proustian evocation is indeed a masterpiece" (A. N. Wilson)

"From the Mitfords to Warhol's Factory to Paris Hilton - Nicky Haslam has been at the centre of every glittering social circle in living memory... Haslam should be declared a National Treasure. While the nation's spirits are grievously low, Haslam brings joy and sprinkles magic dust of one sort or another wherever he goes" (Kate Muir The Times)

"Redeeming Features is a tour de force romp through high society and the more glamorous chapters in the counterculture of the 20th century and the 21st...Haslam pops up from decade to decade alongside some of the most fascinating people in our cultural history" (Vanity Fair)

"You could find yourself as Nicky Haslam's 'plus one' at the swellest parties with his delicious memoir" (Naomi West Harpers Bazaar)

Book Description

From legendary designer Nicky Haslam, a dazzling and witty account of his frenetic life.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By M. Sweeney on 16 Nov 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I knew very little about Nicky Haslam prior to reading this book. I noticed photographs in the newspapers some years ago of him - a rather elderly interior designer in London who was obsessed with Liam Gallagher and had changed his appearance to resemble his new hero. I grew up on a Manchester housing estate quite similar to the Gallaghers which made this society figure's obsession seem incredibly weird. Who was this man and why were the press so indulgent of him?

Here is the answer. From his youthful wealthy and privileged background, Haslam was attracted to Gypsies and Teddy Boys. He has a knack of accumulating distinguished and entertaining friends from Tallulah Bankhead and Diana Coopper to Andy Warhol and the Prince of Wales. His perfectly functioning gaydar leaves one to believe that in 1950's London practically every male - married or otherwise - was either gay or bisexual. It is also beautifully written and highly amusing.

Talleyrand was supposed to have said that those who did not live in the years before the revolution could not understand the sweetness of living. One feels much the same sense of a past, sweet existence on reading this warm hearted and utterly engaging story.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By St Colms on 19 Dec 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an enjoyable romp through the gay world of London and the States in the 50s and 60s. But it is more than that. Beneath the clatter of dropped names of faded stars there is someone with an observant eye for his surroundings and real literary talent.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Steve on 6 Jan 2010
Format: Hardcover
Nicky Haslam has been a social fixture on the transatlantic scene for decades. He's legendary for all sorts of reasons, and obviously either has an eidetic memory or keeps detailed journals stretching back decades on every party he's attended, every house he's entered, and every person he's ever met or slept with. He is, as someone said, a man who would attend a lighted candle, needless to say a party. Perhaps due to his great good looks and his all-encompassing charm Nicky has met simply everyone interesting, starting in his early teenage years with an afternoon with Tallulah Bankhead and onward from there. Every single page of his autobiography glitters with famous names. And, surprisingly enough, the book is well-written, as well. In particular, it seems that Nicky worked especially hard on adding particularly elegiac observations on the countryside as a way of keeping his book from being simply a laundry list of the great and good, the notoriously bad, and the ugly.

Ugly is something I would also use to describe some of what Nicky writes in Redeeming Features. He deliberately inserts some of the very most disobliging things about people in society that I have ever read. In particular, Mr Haslam seems to really dislike the late Alvilde Lees-Milne, and provides certain quite repellent assertions on her personal life with the late Princess Winnareta de Polignac, nee Singer, as well as supposedly recording a catty remark regarding Winnie and Alvilde by her husband's old school chum Harold Acton. Since there are no book sales to be made from mentioning someone so long dead (1994) and comparatively unfamous one can only assume that Nicky was settling an old score.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Suze TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 24 Jan 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I've flicked through magazines with photos of 'celebrity' events in them, I have often seen famous people posing with someone called Nicky Haslam.
I never knew who he was. Sometimes he was described as 'interior designer Nicky Haslam' and sometimes as 'crooner Nicky Haslam' - or 'socialite' etc.
Then I read an article in a newspaper supplement written by him and he came over as a really interesting, opinionated, witty and amusing character, so I sought out this book.
Sadly it isn't as entertaining as the newspaper article was.
It seems to be rather boring and tedious.
There's lots of name dropping of famous people - which is great, but he doesn't go into enough detail about them for me. It almost becomes a book of lists of people he once met.

It could have been much more entertaining and funny.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ms. H. A. Alexander on 3 Mar 2010
Format: Hardcover
Redeeming Features is a hilarious, engagingly readable romp through one man's charmed life; full of anecdotes, indiscretions, and information about the rich, the creative and the famous. Well-written with evocative passages recalling a childhood in the countryside. What a memory - Nicky must have kept daily diaries for years. I thoroughly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BDK on 20 Jan 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my Kindle having read a couple of quite glowing reviews about it but oh, what a self indulgent book of reminiscences. The first couple of chapters I quite enjoyed but after that it became just lists of "important people I have met, men who have fancied me and men I have slept with". What is it about many homosexuals that they think their sexual orientation is so important that they must constantly refer to it.? Rupert Everett's autobiography was much the same. If one is homosexual that is fine by me, but don't feel the need to keep referring to it. By the time I had read the names of all those Mr Haslam alleged he had slept with I began to wonder if there were any straight men left among the society set. I could not finish the book. Too much importance placed on meeting the "right" people and name dropping. What selfish lives many of these celebrities seem to lead and Mr Haslam most of all. Has he ever done anything to benefit anyone who is not well known or well connected? Any work for charity, other than buying tickets to a charity ball? Somehow I doubt it. The kindest thing I can say is that the author writes well. Just a pity his subject matter is so shallow.
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