Compiled by Jonathan Croall
You know that the Christmas season is coming when books such as Gielgoodies! are published. Like its progenitor, this is a slim, patrician and elegant little volume is filled with the most amusing series of gaffes and inappropriate comments.
One could suggest that this book has been put together for the benefit of lazy readers. Jonathan Croall has written an absolutely superb but rather long biography of possibly the leading actor of his generation, John Gielgud—Matinee Idol to Movie Star which has only just come out in paperback.
It is strongly commended to any reader with an interest in the theatre during the 20th century or the at times complex life of John Gielgud himself.
Having so much amusing material to hand, Jonathan Croall has then persuaded Oberon that there is a gap in the gift book market that could easily support a tome containing hundreds of quotes by and about this quirky man.
Gielgud was notorious for his ability to produce a gaffe to fit every occasion so Gielgoodies! has been compiled to celebrate that unusual art form and then filled out with other pithy comments and observations which have tripped unwillingly out of the mouth of that last, noble representative of the legendary Terry family.
At its best, this book is very funny and can lead to some embarrassment when read in public places. It is also filled with other material that seems to serve no more purpose than providing a little background and increasing the book's length to a size that can be sold in hardback and justify the cover price.
Since almost everybody buying Gielgoodies! will be doing so to give it to a friend or relative during the festive season or on a special occasion, its lack of weight and the ability to read it in a single sitting should not be too damaging to sales.
The really canny and generous giver might well decide to pair the magisterial biography and the mini coffee table book, thereby almost guaranteeing that the recipient will be happy with at least one or the other.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher