Reviews for Redgraves : A Family Epic

Booklist Reviews 2012 June #1
The Redgraves did not consider themselves so much a theater dynasty as a theater family. The distinction was their own, and it was telling in its inaccuracy, for as a family, the Redgraves were an indistinct group. Patriarch Michael was a father figure at best, given that his marriage to respected actress Rachel Kempson was a sham to appease a public and a government that would condemn his homosexuality as both distasteful and illegal. Their three offspring--daughters Vanessa and Lynn and son Corin--followed in their parents' theatrical footsteps, as did Vanessa's daughters, Natasha and Joely Richardson. Each, in his or her own way, would give luminescent, career-defining performances, even as personal tragedies threatened to overshadow professional triumphs. Prolific entertainment-industry biographer Spoto examines the senior Redgrave's illustrious career and unsavory peccadilloes in minute detail, though frustratingly spares the rest of the clan this same thoroughness. Still, for stage and film fans, the name Redgrave is synonymous with theatrical perfection, and Spoto's spotty biography serves up salient, if salacious, reading. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 July #1

Chronicling the Redgrave family from 1894 to the present, this book is as much a tribute to the crafting of family history as it is to the dynastic acting family. From the questionable beginnings of Sir Michael Redgrave to the recent, tragic death of his granddaughter, Natasha Richardson, Spoto (Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford) takes readers up close and personal with the Redgraves in this detailed history. Readers interested in the Redgraves and their work on screen and stage will also learn about the paths they took to become great actors. Spoto's more than 30 years of research successfully come to fruition in this title, which is much like his 1983 book, The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock. VERDICT Spoto allows readers to become completely immersed in the lives, across generations, of this remarkable family. Highly recommended for readers interested in acting, the Redgraves, or multigenerational family histories.--R. LeMaster, Medina Cty. Dist. Lib., OH

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 August #3

Spoto (High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly) provides a competent biography of one of the most revered families in acting--a clan whose combined careers have spanned seven decades. The author devotes the better part of his attention to Michael Redgrave, born in 1908 to two actors and becoming a stalwart of British stage, film, and BBC productions. Despite his homosexual inclinations, Michael married actress Rachel Kempson, with whom he had three children. A contemporary of Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud, he appeared in stage productions of nearly every Shakespeare play and in films such as The Lady Vanishes and The Browning Version. His two eldest children, Vanessa and Corin, were passionate actors as well as dedicated social activists. All three children, including youngest daughter Lynn, had successful trans-Atlantic stage and screen careers. Spoto points to intriguing parallels between Michael's marriage to Rachel and Vanessa's first marriage to director Tony Richardson, since both men were admittedly bisexual. The book contains a lengthy recitation of the 2,600-plus roles played by family members, but Redgrave gets his hour in the spotlight. (Oct.)

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