Olivia Williams has unearthed a wealth of fascinating details about three generations of the eccentric, secretive D’Oyly Carte family, owners the hotel for nearly a century ... As for Richard D’Oyly Carte, Ms. Williams writes: 'His confections sit alongside Sherlock Holmes, gin and tonic, Wimbledon tennis, grand public spectacles of monarchy and Test Match cricket as rarefied features of Victorian Britain that have proved remarkably enduring.' Her book is a lively testament to that.
... thorough and entertaining ... The attention Williams rightly devotes to D’Oyly Carte’s theatrical pursuits, and to Gilbert and Sullivan’s light operas, suggests that the book might have benefited from a different title ... the book is rich with details, both serious and frivolous, and deftly sets the story of this singular institution in the context of the greater forces of English history. It sags a bit toward the end, especially when the pressures of modernity and competition begin to assault the business.
This detailed history rambles along, dropping names (Oscar Wilde, Sophia Loren, the Beatles) and attention-getting tidbits (Johann Strauss used to provide dinner music). Entertaining anecdotes document legal wranglings, eccentric guests, titillating scandals, and accounts of unimaginable extravagance ... Williams has done an effective job in recreating the Savoy’s remarkable past. Music theater enthusiasts, celebrity cognoscenti, and social history buffs will enjoy this account of timeless elegance and unparalleled service.