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John Connolly recreates the Golden Age of Hollywood in this moving, literary portrait of two men who found their true selves in a comedic partnership. When Stan Laurel was paired with Oliver Hardy, affectionately known as Babe, the history of comedy--not to mention their personal and professional lives--would be altered forever.
Laurel followed in the wake of Charlie Chaplin, who blazed a trail from the vaudeville stages of England to the dynamic, if often seedy and highly volatile, movie studios of Los Angeles in the early 20th century. Awed like everyone else by Chaplin's genius (and ambition and cruelty), Laurel despaired of ever finding his own path to success--or happiness.
But success and happiness did find Laurel, following the inspired decision by impresario Hal Roach to put him and Oliver Hardy together on screen. Initially a calculated marriage of opposites in an era of highly disposable short films, the partnership bloomed into a professional and personal relationship of lifelong depth.
Eventually, Laurel became 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 anyone else, yet left a trail of affairs and broken marriages in his wake.
And whose life was ultimately defined by one relationship of such astonishing tenderness and devotion that only death could sever their profound connection.
"The life and art of Stan Laurel, from vaudeville and silent movies to the talkies and old age, is explored in this artful novel...The book's great love story is that of Laurel mourning and yearning for his late partner [Oliver Hardy], still writing routines for the two of them, rehearsing them by himself. It's the best tribute to this novel that by the end of it you feel you have been given the full texture of a life." --Kirkus Reviews
"A gorgeous character study and an unforgettable love story." --Elaine Petrocelli, Book Passage
"This is a book about love: love of women, love of men, love of art, love of comedy . . . What catapults the reader straight into Hollywood's Golden Age is the enormous amount of research and passion that lies behind He. When those researched details coalesce, a world of Dickens-like detail leaps off the page." --Martina Evans, The Irish Times
"There is little here of the lovable innocence of [Stan Laurel's] screen persona. Instead we are shown a troubled, difficult man who drinks heavily, screws up his relationships with women and broods about the unmatchable genius of Charlie Chaplin . . . Laurel is never referred to by name, only as 'he,' but every other man in the book has his name written out in full. Initially disconcerting, the usage soon comes to seem no more than a further reflection of the originality of this fine novel." --Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times