This is an excellent effort at examining the life of the mellifluous-voiced British actor, James Mason. The book is paced well and there is a fair amount of information on his early personal life, especially regarding his unusual first marriage to the ascerbic Pamela Mason. Diana De Rosso undoubtedly knew Mason very well, which was a difficult thing to do, considering he was a remote and rather shy man.
The highlights of the book are the chapters on first wife Pamela. Though Pamela Mason was a loud-mouthed and shrewish adulteress, she was also extremely witty and interesting in her own right. Anyone who recalls her appearences on L.A. TV shows from the 60's and 70's will still chuckle at her endless tirades, usually ending with the predictable sentence, "James was so dull."
This book actually provides convincing evidence that James *was* rather boring. Mason comes off as depressed, rigid, indecisive and inordinately unhappy. at least until he meets Clarissa, his second wife. He makes many poor choices and instead of getting over them and getting on with his life, he broods about the negative consequences of his actions. For example, he moves to Hollywood and instantly detests California and American life, yet he inexplicably continues to live in the States for another 15 years.
It is never explained why James stayed with Pamela for so many years, even when he was miserable in her presence and unhappy living in America. When he finally does divorce her, he ends up shilling out millions in alimony and making a succession of wretched movies in order to pay off Pamela.
Ultimately, the real tragedy is that a man as intelligent, urbane and handsome as James Mason (not to mention his stupendous voice!) handled his career in such a haphazard way. He was a marvelous screen actor, but wasted his talent in many potboilers. This book doesn't really explain these poor choices and doesn't reveal enough about Mason's inner life, probably because he was so unknowable. The chapters on his waning years and death were excellent, however. Because I love James Mason, I'll give this five stars, my bias showing outrageously.