Mark Sheridan, a descendant of R.B. Sheridan's elder brother, and an ancestor of the author, is 'stage-struck'. Though his theatrical ambitions are thwarted by a slight stammer, he joins Beerbohm Tree's company as an unpaid 'walk-on'. He tells the story of his two years in the company and his relationship with Esmond, a young actor. Interspersed with this narrative are flashbacks to his earlier life: his childhood in China; his schooldays in Paris, visits to London and its theatres, his university days in Cambridge, eighteen months in St Petersburg, where he witnesses the beginning of the 1905 revolution. Famous names appear in these pages: Bernhardt and Duse; Irving and Terry; Mahler and Massenet; Melba and Caruso; Gide and Proust; G.E. Moore and E.M. Forster; Isadora Duncan and Stanislavsky; Lytton Strachey and Maynard Keynes. Sheridan brings back to life a long gone world in this elegant and erudite evocation of the turn of the 20th century.
I am reading this for the next meeting of my reading group where the author will be attending.
Tags: book, books, reading.