on 15 April 2009
These diaries are some of the best I've read. Well written, full of pithy observations on people, places and plays, Coward led a very full life, travelling, writing and performing.
Sometimes, he uses a diary entry as personal therapy, where he sums up his current situation in life and what he must do to move things forward.
Coward was a control freak. So often, he would get the production process for a play or musical up and running, go off on holiday, come back for the last days of rehearsal prior to opening, declare the whole thing a ghastly mess and take over. On one occasion he sacked no less an actor than Michael Redgrave and took over the part himself, concluding that no one else could possibly do it.
He is reticent not only about his own private life, but also those of his friends and acquaintances, so if you're expecting any salacious gossip, you will be disappointed. Coward came from a generation where one did not discuss that 'kind of thing'.
Despite his theatrical successes in the 1950s, he consistently got bad reviews which he put down to the critics being jealous of his success. This may be part of the reason, but I do wonder if homophobia had something to do with it.
A hugely enjoyable read.