• Maggie Smith

  • By: Michael Coveney
  • Narrated by: Sian Thomas
  • Length: 14 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 09-03-15
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.7 (3 ratings)

Regular price: $26.64

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Publisher's Summary

No one does glamour, severity, girlish charm or tight-lipped witticism better than Dame Maggie Smith, one of Britain's best-loved actors. This new biography shines the stage lights on the life and career of a truly remarkable performer, one whose stage and screen career spans six decades.
From her days as a West End star of comedy and revue, Dame Maggie's path would cross with those of the greatest actors, playwrights and directors of the era. Whether stealing scenes from Richard Burton (by his own admission), answering back to Laurence Olivier, or impressing Ingmar Bergman, her career can be seen as a 'Who's Who' of British theatre in the 20th century.
This book also covers the little-known period in Canada, a prolific five-season run of leading roles that took place during the height of her success in Hollywood, soon after she won her first Oscar for her signature film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
Recently Dame Maggie has been prominent on our screens as ever, with high-profile roles as Violet Crawley, the formidable Dowager Countess of Grantham, in the phenomenally successful television series Downton Abbey, and as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter film franchise: what she herself describes as 'Miss Jean Brodie in a wizard's hat'. Yet paradoxically she remains an enigmatic figure, rarely appearing in public and carefully guarding her considerable talent.
Michael Coveney's absorbing biography, written with the actress' blessing and drawing on personal archives as well as interviews with immediate family and close friends, is therefore as close as it gets to seeing the real Maggie Smith.
Read by Sian Thomas.
©2015 Michael Coveney (P)2015 Orion Publishing Group
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Elinor Dashwood on 09-14-15


If someone had told me that a biography on the divine Maggie Smith could be as dull as dishwater, I would not have believed them. Nor would I have believed that at the end of 14 odd hours, I would know scarcely more about this magnificent actress than I knew before. But so it is.

It's clear that the author has not interviewed Dame Maggie, (or her friends, colleagues or family) in any but the most superficial depth. This "biography" is mostly a catalogue of her work, a reprint of bits of reviews and anecdotes already out there, and (for padding, presumably) synopses of the plots (and many of the lines) of the plays, films and TV productions she has acted in.

If you're looking for the heart of Dame Maggie, what makes her tick, what she hopes and fears and loves, you won't find it here.

I should say that the narrator makes a valiant effort with this soporific material!

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By H.A.B. on 10-12-15


Would you try another book written by Michael Coveney or narrated by Sian Thomas?

no.... as this was probably one of the dullest, most tiresome biographies I ever read/listened to!

I wouldn't be surprised if the wonderful Maggie Smith was never interviewed for this book.... what could have been a fabulous book - was a great disappointment!
well, i learned more about Judy Dench than about Maggie Smith ...

What could Michael Coveney have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

he could have interviewed his subject ... as one gets the impression that this didn't happen.


Have you listened to any of Sian Thomas’s other performances? How does this one compare?

cannot say.... in this case here , he was fine .
it wasn't his fault, that the book was dull ....

What character would you cut from Maggie Smith?

not worth answering - scrap the whole ebook!


Any additional comments?


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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Motco on 05-07-16

A flawed biography

What is there not to like about Maggie Smith? A consummate actress with a remarkable range and yet the biography by Michael Coveney provides little insights about Maggie Smith as a person. This may be because she is reported to be a private person - one of the few revealing facts made by the author. In the end I felt I knew little more about Maggie Smith than I did at the start. Perhaps she would be pleased by this but the thinness of the biography for the listener is disappointing. The most irritating feature of the book is the author's fondness for ascribing witty, pithy or waspish one-liners spoken by Maggie Smith in film or on stage as though she was their author whereas they come from the pen of the scriptwriter or playwright. In doing so, Coveney makes the cardinal mistake of conflating fiction with real life. It's all a little too hagiographic for comfort. While the biography may be weak, Sian Thomas as ever is excellent as the narrator and helps makes the book a little less mundane.

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