Florence Foster Jenkins

Florence Foster Jenkins

The Inspiring True Story of the World's Worst Singer

eBook - 2016
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Florence Foster Jenkins was the most famous, though untalented, soprano in twentieth century America. Her extraordinary story is now a film directed by Stephen Frears starring Meryl Streep as the indomitable Florence Foster Jenkins and Hugh Grant as her husband/manager, St. Clair Bayfield. In this full-length biography tie-in to the film, Nicholas Martin, the scriptwriter, and Jasper Rees take a deeper look at her life and times. Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1868, Florence adored music, but her wealthy father refused to allow her to study in Europe. In 1909, she inherited a considerable sum of money when her father died. It was then that she began to take singing lessons, vowed to become a great soprano and met St Clair Bayfield. At seventy six, after a lifetime supporting classical music societies and giving self-financed recitals, she gave a solo concert at Carnegie Hall that drew Cole Porter, Gypsy Rose Lee and other luminaries to the sold-out hall. It was a night to remember. Florence felt she had triumphed, but the crowd roared with laughter. After a lifetime of singing to entertain others, she didn't know the one thing that everyone else did and that St. Clair Bayfield kept from her: she had a terrible voice and couldn't sing a note. Florence Foster Jenkins is the book everyone will be reading after Meryl Streep brings this unintentionally funny and ultimately heartbreaking American woman to life.
Publisher: 2016
ISBN: 9781250115966
Branch Call Number: E-Book
Characteristics: data file
1 online resource


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Jan 25, 2017

The underlying story (Ms. Jenkins) is interesting but I would not recommend this book. The info is there but you need to wade through a huge amount of irrelevant material and you have to overlook the constant put-downs by the author about his subject.
Although it is clear that Ms. Jenkins wasn’t a good singer in her 70s’, it is also clear she had notable musical taste and skill earlier in her life. Rather than looking at the arc of her abilities, the author assumes (against the evidence) that she was laughable from an early age. She gave a ridiculously bad concert in her 70’s (an age when many people’s voice “goes”) but she was highly respected in the New York social scene for her musical taste for many decades before.
The constant slights got tedious. The author also falls into the history-writers trap of larding the paragraphs with irrelevant dates and information, often going into detail about passing individuals who do not reappear elsewhere. I finally couldn’t wade through anymore and put the book down unfinished, which is exceptional for me

The movie may do a far better job with this interesting story but don’t bother with the book unless you are researching the New York social clubs in the first ½ of the 20th century.
I would not recommend this book.


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