Florence Foster Jenkins

Florence Foster Jenkins

eBook - 2016
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Despite having no pitch, no rhythm and no tone, Florence Foster Jenkins became one of America's best-known sopranos, giving a sell-out concert at Carnegie Hall. Born in Pennsylvania in 1868, Florence Foster adored music and as a girl was a talented pianist, but her wealthy father refused to allow her to study in Europe. In retaliation she eloped with Dr Frank Jenkins but the marriage soon foundered, not least because the eighteen-year-old bride contracted syphilis on their wedding night. Moving to New York, Florence became a piano teacher, but after her father's death in 1909 she inherited a considerable sum and it was then that she vowed to become a great soprano and began to take singing lessons. That same year she met the man who would become first her manager and then her common-law husband, St Clair Bayfield. Over forty years later, after a lifetime supporting New York's classical musical societies - and even founding her own - Florence's greatest dream was finally realized. At the age of seventy-six, she gave a recital - by public demand - at Carnegie Hall. Her extraordinary story is now a film, starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, and directed by Stephen Frears.
Publisher: [Place of publication not identified] : Pan Macmillan UK, 2016
ISBN: 9781925479614
Branch Call Number: ML420.J35
Characteristics: 1 downloadable text file
Additional Contributors: Rees, Jasper - Author

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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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