Do you have ‘Bathroom books’ or know what they are? For me, a bathroom book is a book you can take up or put down easily and not worry too much about losing your place. This book is the absolute perfect bathroom book. In fact, I would argue it is best read in small chunks a year at a time. It is not the type of book you savour, but it will probably encourage you to go out and get a diary (as I did after reading halfway through the first year.)
I can’t say I knew much about Alan Rickman before reading this. I was a fan of his work and always found actors who have range fascinating. He was my favourite part of almost every movie he was in. I also read a few of the excerpts released online before the book was launched and found them intriguing enough to pick up a copy while in London at a bookstore he frequented quite a few times (as documented in his diaries).
The Diaries are not ground breaking by any means. He doesn’t go into enough detail about any one event to truly give you a full picture, but whether he specifically wrote in small nuggets of thoughts or a very skilled editing hand, what was left in the diaries is the sense of watching someone’s life from behind a veil. You get just a peak and enough to wet your appetite for more, but that is it, just a taste and then he inevitably moves on to something mundane like builders or reading scripts or Ruby Wax (a good friend who frequents the pages)
He has catty remarks about movies, actors, parties, the industry, and even good friends (which is not really surprising as he is human). He has robust accountings of many aspects of his life… and yet you keep wondering about the bits left out. His partner Riva Horton makes very few appearances or details, he had a personal assistant for a lot of his most successful years and yet she is rarely mentioned except once. There are very few entries about some of his huge projects, he attended industry events and never writes about them. Barely a word about winning the golden globe, meeting the Queen, Emmy’s, Brits, or even most shockingly, his own wedding. He only wrote about his terminal cancer diagnosis with a simple ‘this will be a different kind of diary now’.
It’s still quite a lovely and enjoyable read and you might spend a lot of time with google open beside you looking up various people, movies, plays and events he references. You probably will also try to be a bit of a detective and try to figure out what he meant by ‘but by the grace of god…’ as a response to finding out about Hugh Grant’s arrest with a prostitute. Or referencing his somewhat frequent and more detailed than most visits to a VIP Erotic show in New York called The Box.
By the time you get to the end where he isn’t talking about his very quick illness and eventual death there will probably be tears in your eyes. By his own words you get the picture of a man who loved his work, was passionate about ‘the craft’, had many friends and admirers and had a very robust social life. He didn’t seem to take himself as a celebrity too seriously but took himself as an actor and director incredibly seriously.
I’ll leave you with one of my final thoughts, I think if you asked him what his favourite Christmas movie (of his own) between Die Hard and Love, Actually… Die Hard would probably win. He doesn’t say it, but Die Hard is referenced throughout the years more than any other piece he did.
If you are looking for a great new bathroom book, I highly recommend Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman