Customer Review

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Quintessential Englishman, 9 April 2007
This review is from: Niv: The Authorised Biography of David Niven (Hardcover)
It was inevitable that a personality who represented the quintessential Englishman as much as David Niven did, would spawn a number of biographies and this one, by Graham Lord, is probably the best of the bunch.

Although Niven was possibly as shallow and certainly as insecure as most actors, he nevertheless appeared in a creditable number of films and although there were some howlers: 'The Statue', 'The Brain' and the deeply embarrassing 'The Elusive Pimpernel', there were also some very fine ones, including 'A Matter of Life and Death', 'The Way Ahead', 'The Guns of Navarone' and of course, 'Seperate Tables' for which he won a very well-deserved Oscar.

Graham Lord has very carefully (and widely) researched this book and has written it in an even-handed way, especially when he mentions Niven's extra-marital affairs, neither exulting in them, not condemning them. It may appear that Mr. Lord comes down rather heavily on Niven's second wife, Hjordis but then again, it seems on the balance of probabilities, she was really a rather unpleasant person.

Without doubt, Niven (who was a superb writer and raconteur) stole stories from others and embellished them, as well as his own stories and these are pointed out by Mr. Lord but does it really matter? The end result is all that counts and if a story, larded-up or not, is funny, then that is the object of the exercise; nobody is going to be entertained by a po-faced, badly told story which isn't amusing.

So Mr. Lord has written the book well (although he would be well-advised to leave out expressions such as, "David went spare" in any further books) and he has dealt with Niven's war service in especially fine fashion.

A very good read, indeed.
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