he
An extraordinary reimagining of the life of one of the greatest screen comedians the world has ever known: a man who knew both adoration and humiliation; who loved, and was loved in turn; who betrayed, and was betrayed; who never sought to cause pain to others, yet left a trail of affairs and broken marriages in his wake . . . And whose life was ultimately defined by one relationship of such tenderness and devotion that only death could sever it: his partnership with the man he knew as Babe.he is Stan Laurel.But he did not really exist. Stan Laurel was a fiction.With he, John Connolly recreates the golden age of Hollywood for an intensely compassionate study of the tension between commercial demands and artistic integrity, the human frailties behind even the greatest of artists, and one of the most enduring and beloved partnerships in cinema history: Laurel &Hardy.

he Details

Titlehe
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 24th, 2017
PublisherHodder & Stoughton
Rating
GenreHistory

he Review

  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    Author John Connolly is best known for the Charlie Parker novels. Oddly, even though I am a huge crime fan, I have never tried these, so I came to this book without any prior expectations or knowledge of his writing. This is a fictional biography of Stan Laurel; rather like Joyce Carol Oates similar book, “Blonde,” which took Marilyn Monroe as her subject. Although a fairly long read, it contains 203 very short chapters – some only a paragraph long – and is, subsequently, a fairly quick read, wh Author John Connolly is best known for the Charlie Parker novels. Oddly, even though I am a huge crime fan, I have never tried these, so I came to this book without any prior expectations or knowledge of his writing. This is a fictional biography of Stan Laurel; rather like Joyce Carol Oates similar book, “Blonde,” which took Marilyn Monroe as her subject. Although a fairly long read, it contains 203 very short chapters – some only a paragraph long – and is, subsequently, a fairly quick read, which keeps you engrossed.Arthur Stanley Jefferson changed his name to Stan Laurel in 1931 and was, of course, famous for being one half of Laurel and Hardy – along with Oliver Hardy, or ‘Babe’ as he is known throughout this novel. Stan first went to America in 1910, along with the star of the show, Charlie Chaplin. Stan was a failure on the tour and returned to Britain, before returning to the States in 1912, again to understudy Chaplin.Veering towards an elderly, dying Stan Laurel, now retired and living with his memories, and the reminiscences of his life, we are taken through his life, career, marriages and love affairs. There are his early struggles to find success. Obviously ambitious and longing for stardom, Stan longs to be Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, but realises he can’t do it alone. Enter Babe Hardy, ‘the funniest fat comedian in the world.’ A man who has had his own struggles but, in him, Stan finds his soul mate and, as becomes obvious, the person he loves most in the world. Babe, larger than life, drinks, gambles, plays golf and, along with Stan, finds stardom.Along with the successes are difficulties, of course. We are taken through vaudeville, early Hollywood, divorces, contracts and film studio struggles. If you already know a lot about Stan Laurel’s life, this may not tell you too much you do not already know. However, this is obviously a fictional biography and I found it absolutely fascinating. Although I remember Laurel and Hardy films from my childhood (and my husband is a huge fan), I really did not know much about him at all. I enjoyed reading these recollections and memories; haunted by the ghosts of Stan’s son, who died at only nine days old, Charlie Chaplin and, always, and most movingly, Babe Hardy. A wonderful read and I must, finally, get to those Charlie Parker novels, as I loved John Connolly’s writing.
    more
  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully done. I knew little to nothing about the focus of this fictional biography, Stan Laurel, apart of course from the obvious, this novel was an absolute delight to read. Beautiful beautiful writing, short, gorgeous emotionally resonant chapters and a real sense of the time period and of the man. His relationships, his career and of course his partner in comedy, who he knew as Babe, all shine from the pages here as John Connolly works his magic. Incredible. Full review for publication.
    more
  • Trev Twinem
    January 1, 1970
    When I first heard that John Connolly had written a fictional account of the life of Stan Laurel, based on the latter's correspondence, I was very intrigued to acquire and read the book. I have the greatest admiration for JC but am more familiar with his creation the anti hero and very troubled detective Charlie Parker the series now having reached book No. 15, each one written with a flair and brilliance that has seen Connolly acclaimed both in Europe and the US, and rightly so. "He" a book giv When I first heard that John Connolly had written a fictional account of the life of Stan Laurel, based on the latter's correspondence, I was very intrigued to acquire and read the book. I have the greatest admiration for JC but am more familiar with his creation the anti hero and very troubled detective Charlie Parker the series now having reached book No. 15, each one written with a flair and brilliance that has seen Connolly acclaimed both in Europe and the US, and rightly so. "He" a book giving the reader a glimpse into the amazing and often troubled life of a man who achieved fame and adulation in the early days of the "talkies" ...Stan Laurel. The he in the book is of course "him", the author never uses his stage name simply because Stan Laurel did not really exist and the true essence of the man is somewhere between Arthur Jefferson, his birth name, and his stage name. In order to construct and present Stan Laurel's story Connolly has utilized the massive correspondence that Laurel wrote in his lifetime, a correspondence that although give little if any insight into the true mind and workings of this comic genius, nevertheless presented the author with a blueprint for him to construct, mould and shape the life of Laurel and his undoubted love and respect for his comic partner Oliver "babe" Hardy.This is a wonderful story a warm and affectionate analysis of a man whose existence was never dull, often sad (his son Stan Robert Laurel died at only 9 days old) his liberal attitude to alcohol and his many affairs including in total 4 wives. His only daughter Lois, a product of his first marriage, was born in 1927 and who recently died in July 2017. Reading "He" was akin to a walk through the old Hollywood from the popular birth of silent movies to the often painful upheaval that became the world of the talkies. Laurel and Hardy not only accepted this change but so much of their success happened after the talkie transition including such memorable classics as Way out West, and A chump at Oxford all under the guidance of renowned American Film Producer Hal Roach. "He" is centred around the Oceana apts in Santa Monica California where Laurel lived until his death, with his fourth wife Ida, and from this base SL reminisces on the events good and bad that shaped his life.From reading the press release before the actual book launch John Connolly states that the idea behind this novel was born in 1999.( In the meantime we the reader have been enthralled by the adventures of former policeman Charlie Parker seeking some form of redemption following the murder of his wife and daughter). It is to the author's credit that "he" has been nurtured, developed, researched and planned as the final product is a work of such originality and imagination. It made me feel that I was eavesdropping into a time and place no longer with us and a world where I became privy to the conversations, the genius, the intellect, and the brilliance of the great Stan Laurel. Many thanks to the publisher Hodder and Stoughton for a gratis copy in return for an honest review and that is what I have written.
    more
  • Breakaway Reviewers
    January 1, 1970
    Not necessarily a bad book; just not for meI am a great fan of John Connolly and so looked forward to reading his latest book; especially when it clearly differed markedly from the books I have read before.The 'He' of the title is Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy, and Connolly attempts to write a novel of his life and experiences 'warts and all' from the viewpoint of his love of the duo. In doing so he encounters the greats of the silent cinema; Chaplin, Keaton, Fred Karno and of course Hardy who Not necessarily a bad book; just not for meI am a great fan of John Connolly and so looked forward to reading his latest book; especially when it clearly differed markedly from the books I have read before.The 'He' of the title is Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy, and Connolly attempts to write a novel of his life and experiences 'warts and all' from the viewpoint of his love of the duo. In doing so he encounters the greats of the silent cinema; Chaplin, Keaton, Fred Karno and of course Hardy who he calls Babe. Throughout the book, Laurel is not mentioned by name but refers to himself as 'He'.This is where I started having problems. The book claims to be a novel but reads like a memoir and it is impossible without further research to determine what is true and what is fiction. Therefore the reader doesn't know which of the character traits and behaviours of 'He' are real and which are from Connolly's imagination. Connolly seeks to construct the 'man unseen', his emotional complexity, love and regret, pain and loss; whether he has succeeded is in the mind of the reader.The other problem for me was that nothing turns me off a book faster than eccentric punctuation, and the total lack of parenthesis I find a real problem. In considering this review I wondered if it was 'just me' and so looked at what other reviewers had said. On Amazon, 8 people gave it 5 stars and 7 gave it 1 star, clearly, the readership is divided. In the spirit of fairness, I am taking the middle ground and giving it 3 stars and by doing so acknowledge the legitimacy of the work, but also my experience as a reader. PashtpawsBreakaway Reviewers received a copy of this book to review
    more
  • Debbie Young
    January 1, 1970
    Well, this was a strange and interesting read, and I genuinely can't decide whether I love it or hate it - at times I did both. Hence the three star review. Here are the various other descriptions that sprang to mind as I whipped through it - because I certainly didn't want to put it down - some of which are contradictory, but I felt them all:originalpettybreathtakingtrying much too hard to be cleveractually rather cleverunkinddisrespectfulintriguingaddictivegroundbreakingpioneeringobsessiveguil Well, this was a strange and interesting read, and I genuinely can't decide whether I love it or hate it - at times I did both. Hence the three star review. Here are the various other descriptions that sprang to mind as I whipped through it - because I certainly didn't want to put it down - some of which are contradictory, but I felt them all:originalpettybreathtakingtrying much too hard to be cleveractually rather cleverunkinddisrespectfulintriguingaddictivegroundbreakingpioneeringobsessiveguilty of so many sins of omissionunfairbiasedsweepingrepetitiveharping onnarrowreductivepretentiousmanneredirritatingengrossingpoignantforcedmovinglabouredelegantso, so irritating on the use of the godlike "He" for Laurel and full names for everyone else, often repeating the same name over and over again on the same page (Hal Roach did this, Hal Roach did that, oh my, Hal Roach again - I think we can be trusted to remember his surname if you just use his first now, thank very much)Some of these adjectives will be offputting to some while a turn-on to others. Make of them what you will.While I can't wholeheartedly recommend this as a book for Laurel and Hardy fans - of which I am a longstanding one - it's certainly thought-provoking and different, and it would make a great read for book clubs, because there is a great deal in his writing technique that would trigger discussion.My immediate need afterwards was not to reach for more John Connolly books, but to ransack my other, broader books about Laurel and Hardy, and to watch the Sky Arts biopic, and, of course, to watch their timeless films, about which this book actually says very little.Still, I'm glad I read it. I think.
    more
  • Orla McAlinden
    January 1, 1970
    I appear to be very definitely in the minority, having scrolled through the reviews here, but I found this novel a bitter disappointment. Connolly has achieved what I could not previously have imagined possible; to take the stories of the world's first super-stars in one of the world's first mass media frenzies, the Golden Age of Hollywood, and to turn them into a dull and barely readable book.I knew very little of the lives of Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel, and was anticipating a fascinating, fi I appear to be very definitely in the minority, having scrolled through the reviews here, but I found this novel a bitter disappointment. Connolly has achieved what I could not previously have imagined possible; to take the stories of the world's first super-stars in one of the world's first mass media frenzies, the Golden Age of Hollywood, and to turn them into a dull and barely readable book.I knew very little of the lives of Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel, and was anticipating a fascinating, fictionalised account of their lives, full of period detail and lush description and lyricism.What I have is a book. A book like this. A book of sentences. Sentences like this. I pick it up. I sigh. I put it down. I think, can I be bothered? I think, Connolly has millions of fans. It must be me. I must be too stupid. I pick up the book. It is not me. It is the book. I put it down.Stylistically, I found the book pretentious, unrewarding, and trying way too hard to be clever. I honestly believe that had this manuscript been submitted to the same publisher, but written by an unknown author without Connolly's millions of fans, it would have been rejected out of hand. This is the first negative review I have ever written, normally I just accept that sometimes a book doesn't suit me, or I have chosen the wrong book. I usually review books only to share the joy I have found in them. I found no joy in reading this book.
    more
  • Kieron
    January 1, 1970
    A beautiful book on a lot of different levels that takes you back to the first beginnings of cinema and paints a nuanced picture of Hollywood legend Stan Laurel and his relationship with his partner Oliver Hardy. We are introduced to a man who is by turns charming and infuriating, humble and ambitious, generous and selfish... As always, the author writes flowing prose that slips down as easily as cold orange juice on a hot day- you'll have 100 pages read before you know it, but at the same time A beautiful book on a lot of different levels that takes you back to the first beginnings of cinema and paints a nuanced picture of Hollywood legend Stan Laurel and his relationship with his partner Oliver Hardy. We are introduced to a man who is by turns charming and infuriating, humble and ambitious, generous and selfish... As always, the author writes flowing prose that slips down as easily as cold orange juice on a hot day- you'll have 100 pages read before you know it, but at the same time you're gaining the kind of insight into a deeply complex figure that would normally require a doorstop of a biography complete with cumbersome footnotes. Connolly has waded through all of that so that we don't have to. His research is meticulous, but he transmits and condenses what he's learnt within a fast-paced narrative fizzing with snappy dialogue and great one-liners to make the book very hard to put down once you've started. This is one you'll be recommending to friends- it's fascinating, funny, and finally, deeply moving.
    more
  • Helen Carolan
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not really a fan of Connolly's Charlie Parker series, but I have liked his two books of ghost stories and this telling of the life of Stan Laurel is stunningly beautiful. Heartbreaking and funny it had me in tears from the very first page. It tells of Laurel's early start in vaudeville and his many marriages and the real love of his life Oliver Hardy. But in 20s and 30s Hollywood being openly in love with another man was frowned upon. The studio who seemed to be aware of what was happening c I'm not really a fan of Connolly's Charlie Parker series, but I have liked his two books of ghost stories and this telling of the life of Stan Laurel is stunningly beautiful. Heartbreaking and funny it had me in tears from the very first page. It tells of Laurel's early start in vaudeville and his many marriages and the real love of his life Oliver Hardy. But in 20s and 30s Hollywood being openly in love with another man was frowned upon. The studio who seemed to be aware of what was happening covered it up with stories claiming the two didn't get on. Although there is no evidence to suggest the pair had a sexual relationship it was clear that for both of them this relationship was very special. Beautifully and hauntingly written this really is a wonderful read.
    more
  • Nicola Henderson
    January 1, 1970
    Lovely book and I really enjoyed reading it. I watched Laurel and Hardy on a Saturday afternoon sometimes when I was young so it was nice to actually read about them. The writing style occasionally annoyed me in bits but I couldn't put it down until I finished it and was in tears at the end so felt really immersed. It did well to put an insight into some pretty bizarre decisions in Laurel and Hardys private lives and also gave a good look at the beginnings of Hollywood & the characters invol Lovely book and I really enjoyed reading it. I watched Laurel and Hardy on a Saturday afternoon sometimes when I was young so it was nice to actually read about them. The writing style occasionally annoyed me in bits but I couldn't put it down until I finished it and was in tears at the end so felt really immersed. It did well to put an insight into some pretty bizarre decisions in Laurel and Hardys private lives and also gave a good look at the beginnings of Hollywood & the characters involved. Well worth a read, a lovely book. :-)
    more
  • Colin Hogan
    January 1, 1970
    Opening chapters felt as if were written as the start of "the grand novel." Instead I found it rather contrived, used unnecessary complex vocabulary & sentence structure, & was difficult to access. Indeed it took a number of attempts to get further into the book. Fortunately things did calm down after this with only the occasional over elaborate description. Unfortunately it also became a fairly standard biography (although perhaps more accurately imagined autobiography) & ultimately Opening chapters felt as if were written as the start of "the grand novel." Instead I found it rather contrived, used unnecessary complex vocabulary & sentence structure, & was difficult to access. Indeed it took a number of attempts to get further into the book. Fortunately things did calm down after this with only the occasional over elaborate description. Unfortunately it also became a fairly standard biography (although perhaps more accurately imagined autobiography) & ultimately a never ending series of names of people in his life.
    more
  • Keith CARTER
    January 1, 1970
    This has got to be one of my favourite reads of 2017. It is touching and uplifting but also at the same time frustrating. This book is a fictional account of the careers of Laurel and Hardy and the clever thing that John Connolly does is convey the love and mutual admiration both characters had for each other. You may also find yourself laughing out loud whilst reading this book which both Laurel and Hardy strived to do on the screen for so many years. Buy it and enjoy it.
    more
  • Caroline
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a huge fan of John Connolly's Charlie Parker series. When word came out about this book I wasn't sure what to expect. I can safely say I wasn't disappointed. This is a beautifully written book about Stan Laurel, a brilliant mingling of fact and fiction. Having laughed at the antics of Stan and Ollie when I was a child, this book brought a tear or two to my eyes. With "He" John Connolly has proved that he is a master storyteller in any genre.
    more
  • kaz goodfellow
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book. It was written in a completely different way to anything I have read but being a laurel and hardy fan, it was an insight into their lives. I loved it...Although non fiction...could it have been fiction. They way the author has written the words with feeling and emotion, feels like it is Stan remembering his life in his won words.
    more
  • Cathy
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully done! John Connolly. I loved every moment of this novel. I felt the happiness and the despair , and tried very hard not to cry at the end.
Write a review