Disraeli once said ""The closer you get to great men, the smaller they seem."" Mr. Edelman, a seasoned practitioner of the middleweight novel, has not reduced him to size -- he still has several inches on George Arliss and he's also handsome and sought after by the ladies. This is also the period in which he stands for Parliament and fails; in which he is in constant debt; and in which he falls in love, really in love, with the lovely Henrietta, wife of a man with ""other occupations"" and mother of four. Publicly pilloried more than once (""He graciously shares his Henrietta/ Who being good could still be better""), warned off by her father, Disraeli nonetheless maintains the relationship until Henrietta, like all the others, begins to cloy. Occasionally in this portrait of the canny, wary, socially adroit young man there are signs of the opportunist he was and of the greatness he will achieve. Disraeli also said ""Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory."" This is one step easier -- true experience replicated fictionally to entertain which it does, reasonably well. Literary Guild alternate.