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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 24 June 2013
I first read this biography about Vivien Leigh by Anne Edwards when it was released in the mid 1970s through a book club I subscribed to at that time. I found the actress a fascinating subject. She is described as a complicated and contradictory character to those who knew her well in her lifetime. Determined, sometimes ruthless, in her ambition both in her professional life as an actress as well as in her private life. She secured against all the odds one of the most famous parts in film history that of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind which made her an international star and won her first film Oscar. She also starred in other famous film roles as Lady Hamilton which she starred with Laurence Olivier (who she married in real life), Cleopatra, Anna Karenina and Blanche du Bois in a Streetcar Named Desire for which she also won an Oscar. Although she tried to equal her husband, Sir Laurence Olivier, on the stage she never felt equal to his talent. It was, however, her manic depressive illness which later drove a wedge between this famous theatrical couple and they later divorced. I would highly recommend this biography to anyone interested in the actress for its detailed account of her life which is well referenced by letters from those closest to her.
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on 24 August 2017
Very interesting,
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on 19 July 2017
Thank you.
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on 20 March 2014
A very well researched and well written book. Very sad in places. She never really came to terms with losing Olivier to a younger but very unattractive woman. Battled her demons but it was her physical health rather than her mental health which failed her in the end. In other biographies, scant mention has been made regarding the relationship with her daughter; so it was interesting to learn that they were nit estranged at all. If you are a fan of Vivienne' s you will enjoy this book.
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on 7 September 2013
The worst thing was finishing it... I absolutely loved this book - the most tragic and utterly beguiling film actress of all time
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on 22 July 2017
This is an excellent bio of Vivien, which involves the reader and goes into a sensible amount of detail about the events of her life. After I had finished it I was deeply moved by her untimely death and the struggles she had encountered. My only slight criticism is that the book sometimes gives out too many names of directors, actors etc, most of whom I had never heard of. I have also read Kendra Bean's work on Vivien and, as a biography, Anne Edwards book is a much more enjoyable read.
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on 9 August 2016
Bought this as a gift - no complaints so far.
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on 8 September 2016
I'm an "Old Hollywood" fan and as such have read other bios about Leigh but none quite as revealing as this one regards her manic depression / bipolar disorder as it is called now. It really captures how quickly her mood could change and how vile and violent she could become when gripped by it. It's amazing, however, that she managed to control it whilst actually acting, maybe because she was so good at taking herself out of herself and actually becoming her character instead.

From childhood, Vivien appears to always have been beautiful, clever, charming and captivated everyone she encountered - even Olivier's first wife whilst he was still married to her but conducting an affair with Leigh. And she seems to have been completely oblivious to these traits, showing no vanity whatsoever but always well groomed, with exquisite manners and etiquette and a seemingly immensely surprising knowledge of just about everything! I didn't realise she was also a very talented linguist being fluent in French, German and Italian and even dubbed her own voice in these languages for overseas versions. It also captures hers and Olivier's devotion to each other and her constant opinion that she could never quite match up to him. With her frail physical health (suffered with bouts of TB throughout her life), she never let that stand in the way of her doing things. She really was a fighter and put her work above her health. And Olivier too, even to the point of acquiescing to his divorce request though obvious she did not want to. She remained in love with him for the rest of her life, despite finding "love" or at least companionship and living with Jack Merrivale until her death.

She seems also to have treasured friendships. She remained steadfast friends with her ex husband even holidaying with him and their daughter whom she had an oddly distant relationship with until she was grown up and married and had presented her with grandchildren.

She managed to continue to impress even after the Olivier divorce with stage awards (she was also acutely adept at both stage and movie acting techniques) and seemed to eventually find happiness and peace (outside of the manic episodes) by the end of her life which came during a bout of illness but quite unexpectedly as she was recovering.

I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to Old Hollywood and/or Leigh fans. It's made me now move on to reading the most recent bio of Olivier and both as matching up very well so far. Has also made me seek out and watch her other movies (GWTW is my favourite all time movie). She was fantastic in it and you can't imagine anyone else as Scarlet. But I also loved her in Waterloo Bridge (another favourite of mine) Anna Karenina and Streetcar (which was very personal for her and often very difficult for her state of mind). I have seen her Cleopatra, Lady Hamilton and even Fire Over England and now want to see the lesser known movies, although I'm sure that, although lesser known in titles, Vivien's appearance in them is still as beautiful and her portrayal just as captivating as the lady herself.
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on 25 January 2014
I love reading about the true old time classic actors and this one does not fail. A real story about a real person. Really entertaining and because it's warts an all makes it even better. I cried at the end because I felt I'd lost a friend as well.
I loved this book and anyone who is a fan of biography will love it too.
Jenny M
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on 6 June 2013
A pleasure to read from start to finish. Incredibly interesting with great insights from those who knew her. It has left me with a wish I could have met her.
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