While some second acts have been disappointing, this was certainly not one of them. After this venture, I am ready for more and am saddened that Sir Max Beerbohm is not a more familiar name outside literati.
Also referred to as A Fairy Tale for Tired Men, this is a tale of Lord George Hell, a selfish man who deceives others shamelessly and while considered a man who has it all, realizes he has nothing. Rather than a tale of redemption, however, Beerbohm uses his mastery to weave an ironic tale of raw humanity in all its ugly colors.
Lord George Hell, the book’s namesake, leads a privileged life and suffers no guilt as he cheats those around him. His life, however, has become blasé and his search leads him to a very young actress who has her own naive expectations.
The object of Lord George’s desires, Jenny Mere, is looking for a man with the face of a saint. She believes she can only truly love such a man and no other. Only 16, she is young, beautiful and naive.
Signora Gambogi is a fiery Italian mistress of Lord George and sees what lies ahead. She is not at all please with George’s infatuation and attempts to reveal his true identity to the unsuspecting Jenny.
A meeting with Sir Beerbohm would be heavenly. Perhaps he’d recite this tale as I’m sure his voice would add another level of perfection to this fairy tale. If I had enough nerve, I’d ask him to put create some sketches for The Happy Hypocrite.
My rating for The Happy Hypocrite is a 9 out of 10.
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