Having just read, and really enjoyed "Breakfast in Brighton" by Nigel Richardson, I went straight back in for a second book by the same author.
Nigel Richardson has imagined a fair amount of this biography of Josh Avery. This technique might not be to everyone's taste but for me works beautifully and is a legitimate way of trying to get to the essence of a biographical subject.
Who was Josh Avery? In a nutshell, he was the stepfather of one of Nigel Richardson's school friends. Richardson was fascinated by the anecdotes he told, many of which centred around the time he spent in London's Soho in the 1950s - an era when the area was renowned for its bohemian characters such as Francis Bacon, Henrietta Moraes, Muriel Belcher, Norman Bowler, Daniel Farson, John Deakin etc. Annoyingly for Nigel Richardson, Josh died shortly after Nigel had resolved to write a biography about him. Using this development to his advantage, Nigel Richardson drew upon a combination of research, interviews and imagination to get to the heart of Josh Avery and his time in Soho.
The book starts in thrall to Josh Avery and 1950s Soho, however as the story progresses, concurrently revealing elements of Nigel Richardson's own background and personal journey, the reader starts to see different aspects to the stories and characters, many of which are dark and disturbing.
I thought "Breakfast in Brighton" was magnificent. This is even better. I have a long standing fascination with London and in particular its twentieth century history, so, to an extent, I was alway likely to enjoy this book. That said, this book is much more than a biography. It both celebrates and debunks the romanticism that surrounds 1950s Soho and reveals some dark truths about sexuality, jealousy, creativity, revenge, status, reinvention, love, self-destruction, obsession, duty and the human condition. It's all here - it's a stunning book.