Truly, Madly: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, and the Romance of the Century

Hachette Audio. Mar. 2022. 13:18 hrs. ISBN 9781549173509. $25.98. FILM
Galloway (former executive editor of The Hollywood Reporter) recounts the passionate and tumultuous marriage of actors Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. The two first met while filming Fire Over England in 1937. Both were married to other people at the time (Olivier to actress Jill Esmond and Leigh to barrister Leigh Holman). They embarked on an affair and eventually married in 1940. On the surface, their 21-year marriage seemed to be a fairy tale as they each attained great personal successes in both film and theater and held star-studded parties at Notley Abbey, their fabulous English country estate, all described in glittering detail. Much attention is given to their film and theater work, especially Leigh’s winning of the coveted role of Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind and Olivier’s Richard III. Troubles lurked under the surface, however, ranging from infidelities, financial difficulties, and most of all, Leigh’s health issues. She was first diagnosed with tuberculosis (the disease would eventually take her life at the age of 53) but it was her undiagnosed and misunderstood bipolar disorder that had the greatest effect on their marriage. Galloway makes excellent use of unpublished letters as well as a modern analysis of mental health conditions to provide fresh insight. The narration by Molly Parker Myers is strong, precise, and utterly engrossing.
VERDICT Fascinating, insightful, and well-written, Galloway’s work should appeal to theater and film fans.
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