Maybe, given time, they would have worked out a balance, like the narcissistic leads of Kiss Me, Kate, but ticking beneath them was Leigh’s bipolar disorder, which manifested itself variously as violent mood swings, tumultuous affairs and, on occasion, psychotic breaks ... It is here, I think, that Galloway, the former executive editor of the Hollywood Reporter, lifts himself clear of previous chronicles, including Olivier’s own self-lacerating memoirs, by supplementing firsthand accounts with retrospective diagnoses by experts like Kay Redfield Jamison and by tracing a genetic link to Leigh’s great-uncle, housed in a Kolkata asylum for much the same symptoms. More lucidly than ever, we can see how, in the grip of her own brain chemistry, Leigh quite literally lost her mind.
There have been many, many previous biographies of Leigh and several of Olivier...But Galloway, the former executive editor of The Hollywood Reporter, is perhaps the first author to interpolate this oft-told story with commentary from contemporary mental-health experts, like Kay Redfield Jamison, the psychologist who herself suffers from bipolar disorder and wrote An Unquiet Mind. He accomplishes this smoothly, in a contribution to the LarViv literature that is — if not strictly essential — coherent, well-rounded and entertaining. To the couple’s tale of passion he adds compassion, along with the requisite lashings of gossip ... Galloway clearly spent significant time in the archives (though frustratingly, a chunk of Leigh’s side of her correspondence with Olivier remains on the loose). Galloway splices this material seamlessly with old interviews and enough new ones with those Of That Era, such as Korda and Hayley Mills, to inject some pep and freshness ... It’s an enjoyable, disorienting sensation — as the Oscars now hemorrhage viewers and relevance — to find a time capsule from when movies and their stars didn’t just stream into our living rooms along with all the other space junk, but seemed the very center of the universe.
A workmanlike and ultimately sorrowful dual biography of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh ... In its final chapters, the book is deeply harrowing, not least because mental illness remained a misunderstood scandal in mid-20th-century Western culture ... Truly, Madly, to its benefit and detriment, at times reads as an inspired feat of collation ... As biography, however, this approach often produces a muddle ... Truly, Madly has passages of overstatement and florid speculation ... Truly, Madly comes alive as a book, and it is a gripping and terribly sad reading experience.
Galloway earnestly pulls these sources together, corroborating from multiple perspectives. The result is both compelling and frustrating – a thousand anecdotes and names swirl about the narrative, dizzyingly, yet the heart of the drama beats strongly. It is very much Leigh’s story, told most poignantly as the book narrows its scope to chronicle her decline ... Galloway juggles the complex story energetically. He’s at his best when he takes a forensic approach to the relationship and to Leigh’s struggles, but he’s prone to purple prose.
[A] gossipy, fluent dual biography ... Details are already familiar from the many good biographies in existence. Even so, Galloway is careful to bring out the kind of nuance that often gets lost in the rush to extract the last bit of gossip from a drama that boasts a supporting cast that reads like a Who’s Who of the mid-20th century ... Here lies the central problem of this entertaining book. Galloway, rightly, reads Leigh’s behaviour through modern understandings of bipolar disorder, quoting extensively from the work of contemporary psychiatrists. In light of this he, and we, can feel only profoundly sorry for Leigh that she was born decades too early to get the medical interventions that would have made her life less of a torment. Yet at the same time Galloway wants things the older, cruder way, with 'Vivien Leigh' as an avatar for the sexy tragic madwoman, all wild hair and vixen cunning. His attempt to square the circle in a clumsy final passage by suggesting that romantic passion is, in essence, a species of madness feels disingenuous.
Truly Madly adds little to its predecessors, other than a detailed analysis of Leigh’s mental illness, but it is a pacy — at times, racy — account ... Galloway paints a sympathetic portrait of a couple who loved each other too much and understood each other too little.
... fascinating and detailed ... The pain of Leigh’s issues and heartbreak brings her to life for us, even though Galloway seems to have a less-than-stellar appreciation of her acting ability ... interweaves the intense and storied lives of these superstars with the famous vehicles with which their career highs were associated ... Galloway has a slightly nasty tone when discussing the particulars in the couple’s life and seems to fall very distinctly on the side of 'Larry.' This keeps us from getting a fully impartial telling of how their love began, rose and declined but never died. Truly, Madly is an eminently readable story with a snarky tone that takes you back to the past and then back to the future --- our future --- as our screens begin to make or break our lives. It gives one a lot to think about.
A worthy addition to film history libraries, using insight gained over decades not to judge or excoriate its subjects, but to view their accomplishments and struggles through a new lens, encouraging readers to look at how much they were able to accomplish despite insurmountable personal issues and extremes of emotion. This empathetic, studiously researched volume is a self-described 'study of passion…the kind that engulfs, overwhelms, and sometimes destroys.' What emerges is a well-rounded, balanced portrait of two personalities who continue to captivate fans with their work and their lives. With his fascinating new book, Galloway allows his readers the chance to get closer than ever before to this eternally enigmatic couple ... In an effort to make sure readers get a three-dimensional portrait of his subjects, Galloway provides analyses of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh’s work in an effort to provide insight into their personal relationship ... This balanced perspective and willingness to evaluate history critically that maintains momentum in this biography despite its considerable length ... The most noteworthy aspect of Truly, Madly is the author’s treatment of Vivien Leigh’s well publicized struggles with mental illness. Galloway wisely resists the urge to pathologize his subject post-mortem ... It is rare and refreshing to see mental health written about with such nuance in a Hollywood biography, with such respect for its subject, and for that Galloway’s work stands in the top tier of film history books ... Engagingly presented and thoroughly researched, Truly, Madly is a fascinating exploration of how the art of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier was inextricable from their personal relationship and public personas.
Galloway’s extensive research reveals the many hurdles the couple faced...and offers behind-the-scenes accounts from both their greatest successes ... While the focus is on Olivier and Leigh’s relationship, Galloway also offers a riveting depiction of the First and Second World Wars and show business in the U.S. and the UK ... Will greatly appeal to cinema buffs, theater aficionados, and fans of the doomed lovebirds.
... an astute biography of that marriage, with wonderfully dishy details of productions such as Rebecca and A Streetcar Named Desire ... Anyone who loves the dramatic arts will be engrossed by Galloway’s perceptive history of this iconic duo.
A richly detailed account of the fiery ascent and demise of one of Hollywood’s most glamorous couples ... Weaving in uncovered correspondence and interviews with family and friends, Galloway delivers a taut narrative, charting the couple’s rise to stardom on stage and screen ... Galloway’s reporting is immersive and intimate, and studded with vivid recollections ... It’s a riveting story brought to life by the outsized passion that entangled them and later tore them apart. This page-turning biography is one to get swept up in.
[A] sweeping story ... While this relationship has been written about countless times, the author endeavors to make this account more nuanced, using the prism of our modern understanding of mental health to address the problems Leigh battled throughout her life. To that end, we get a slightly more sympathetic view of the actor ... Galloway excels at detailing the couple's world ... The first two-thirds of the book race by in full Technicolor, while the last third is thinner, reading more like an IMDB page or an obituary, which it eventually becomes for Galloway’s two tragic and beautiful subjects. A good choice for lovers of theater and cinema—and for those who live for the drama.