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on 13 November 2013
This wonderfully written book finally answers a question on the lips of anyone who ever asked: "Whatever happened to Bobby Henrey?" Bobby (now Robert) Henrey has lived a life full of amazing good luck, tinged with heartbreak and the appalling tragedy of losing his teenage daughter, who died in his arms. The only child of best selling writers Robert and Madeleine Henrey, he was born in June, 1939, at his parents farmhouse in Normandy on the cusp of World War II and, as the Germans invaded France and swept towards the Normandy coast eleven months later, he and his parents were lucky to be able to board the last ship sailing for England. They barely made it, for the Luftwaffe attacked the ship and tried to sink it. The Bobby Henrey story may well have ended there, but it seems that God had other plans for Bobby. Settling in a little flat in Piccadilly, London, Bobby and his parents survived the Blitz and he was the only child to be living in central London when all the others had been evacuated. During his early childhood, he had no contact with other children and was surrounded by adults. He didn't go to school, either, his parents preferring to teach him at home.

In the summer of 1947, through a chain of amazing circumstances you will read about in the book, the then eight years old Bobby was chosen for the pivotal role of Phillipe, the son of the French ambassador in London in Carol Reed's new film "The Fallen Idol". We've all heard stories about one particular boy being chosen from hundreds of others for an important part in a film, but Carol Reed only interviewed Bobby and never saw another child. As soon as he saw the boy, he knew that Bobby was Phillipe and he was right. Bobby, having been brought up in France and England, spoke English with a liquid French accent, which the part called for and when the film was released in the autumn of 1948, Bobby caused an absolute sensation. The critics raved over the astounding performance from a boy who previously hadn't acted in so much as a school nativity play, but successfully carried the whole film on his eight years old shoulders. He became a star overnight and people flocked to cinemas all over the country to see the boy wonder, heralded as the greatest kid since Jackie Coogan.

This early experience of child super stardom was to have unforeseen consequences. When he was 11 years old, Bobby started school and this was a major culture shock for him. Not only because he had been a film star of two feature films (the other one being "The Wonder Kid"), but also because he had lived an entirely different life to everyone else there. He was gentle; fey; highly intelligent and `different'. School bullies target other children who are `different' and Bobby was bullied terribly. Because he had never played games with other children, he was hopeless at sport and this made things even worse. Later on, he blamed all this on being in "The Fallen Idol" and for many years refused to discuss the film. This book details his lifelong battle to come to terms with being such a famous child star and his final acceptance of it.

It is so interesting and so well written, that I could hardly put it down until I had finished reading it and I highly recommend it. I have recently had the honour of meeting Robert at the launch of this book and all I can say is that he is just as charming now as he was as a child star. In fact, I was already a big fan before I met him and now I'm an even bigger one!
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on 29 October 2013
I loved this book, which although isn't brilliantly written, and sometimes a little long winded, is a charming, and also sad tale of Roberts' struggle to leave behind and come to terms with, unwittingly having been a child star.
He probably wouldn't like to hear this, but I thought he was adorable as Phile, in the film, and that was my main motivation for reading this biography. I hope he can now feel a little more contented when he looks back over his life, which has been overshadowed by the very tragic loss of his daughter, and I wish him all the best- he deserves it.
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on 10 November 2013
An honest and interesting account of the effect of stardom as a child, right through to an an adult.
Interesting insight into the production of the film and the famous film directors of the 1950s.
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on 2 February 2014
Having been introduced to Mrs Robert Henrey's books by my Mum ( & loving them) I was very interested to read this book, written by her son. For anyone who is familiar with these books, it clarifies things I was unsure about (such as whether the books were written by him / her or both). However, quite apart from the connection with his mother and her writing, it is a compelling read in its own right.
It is written honestly and without sentimentality and it really does feel like a privilege to read the life story of this very private man, who has dealt with tragedy in his own life an admirable and humbling way.
The references to his early life as a reluctant child film star make fascinating reading, but it is his whole life story, covering his experiences in the Normandy countryside, with his beloved Grandmother, to his move to the states which makes this book so enjoyable.
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on 22 June 2015
This is a book I have long wished for, and I thank Robert for having the courage finally to publish it after his mother's death. It clarifies a great deal which has puzzled me for years about Madeleine's seemingly distant relationship with him, and also the authorship of the 'Mrs Robert Henrey' books. I have all the books except one, and have read them over and over ever since they were first published. Now I feel I finally understand much more about their story. I would like to send very best wishes to Robert Henrey, whom so many people felt they knew as a little boy, now a mature, forgiving and brave man.
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on 24 October 2014
Thank you so much for this brave and touching autobiography, honest and emotional. As one who has read ALL the books written by his parents, I already had some knowledge of the family, but this gave a true insight and filled in a lot of gaps and questions I had about their authorship. I came across the book by good luck on my Kindle, and having read it on Kindle I had to buy the real book. I have now read it again and got even more from it this time. Thank you for having the courage to write it, and for completing the task!!
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on 18 December 2015
This is a must if you like the autobiographical books written by Robert Henrey's mother Madeleine Henrey. It is extremely informative and answers a lot of question I had about his life as a child. I rang the publisher (who is a friend of the family) to ask a question and she give me Robert's email address and said he would be delighted to email me back. This I did but he did not reply! Loved the book, less impressed by Mr. Henrey.
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on 2 August 2014
It's a touching book, and The Fallen Idol is a wonderful film, but one thing surprised me. At one point Mr Henry mentions the staircase in the film where Mrs Baines is pushed to her death. I've seen the film many times and Mrs Baines is never pushed down the stairs to her death. She falls accidentally from a balcony next to the stairs, and Mr Baines isn't responsible at all.
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on 31 December 2013
Here is the background to a wonderful film of the 1940s that has perennial interest. The ten-year-old boy in the film writes his experience of that time, and makes the story both more interesting and more touching by bringing his life up to date, with both mundane detail and tragic events that make it all into a more than worthwhile autobiography. Extremely well told.
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on 11 November 2013
Revealing story from the son of author who wrote the original and the tragic death of his lovely daughter. Enlightening.
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