A ROSE FOR MRS. MINIVER by Michael Troyan

A ROSE FOR MRS. MINIVER

The Life of Greer Garson
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A sweet, contained view of Louis B. Mayer’s favorite actress and Hollywood’s icon of WWII fortitude. Garson had no children (“no life has everything,” she commented, characteristically). Thus she eliminated the chance for nasty child tell-alls and left the mantle of remembrance to respectful outsiders. Troyan, a photo coordinator for Warner Bros. International Television Distribution, fits the bill, granting the warmth and distance due a subject who held afternoon teas on the set but also read the classics between takes. There’s little ancient family history unearthed, except for observations on her seafaring ancestors, her erudite father (who died young), and her sickly early youth. After a triumph on the London stage, Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson was brought to Hollywood in 1937 by Louis B. Mayer as another of his foreign discoveries. For months she languished, until her tiny role as wife in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) made her a star. Soon thereafter followed Mrs. Miniver (1942). If this book does nothing else, it re-creates the sadly exquisite timing and great power of Miniver to galvanize US prowar sympathies and provide Garson with a lifelong symbol, the rose. By the time her film career ended in 1967, she had won seven Oscar nominations (and one win, for Miniver); had begun her extensive philanthropic efforts; and was deep in a happy third marriage to businessman Buddy Fogelson. Until her death in 1996, she retained her persona among fans as Queen of MGM, the fine lady with the orange hair. Public opinion changed little even after her 1940s divorce from Miniver co-star Richard Ney (who had played her son!). Expect no new revelations on film history or shocking discoveries about Garson’s personal life; instead, veneration for a seemly star. (48 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-8131-2094-2
Page count: 506pp
Publisher: Univ. Press of Kentucky
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1998