David Niven’s Go Slowly, Come Back Quickly


The British actor David Niven was a Hollywood star of the 1940’s and 1950’s.  His portrayal of a naive and uptight bishop in The Bishop’s Wife is one of my all-time favorite character parts.   Niven was not only an Academy Award winning actor  —  he could also write.  His books were as urbane and funny as the parts he often played.  Niven had already published two memoirs, the very witty and packed-with-Hollywood-gossip The Moon’s a Balloon and Bring on the Empty Horses, when he wrote his first novel, Go Slowly, Come Back Quickly.  This is a highly enjoyable love story set in war torn Britain during the Second World War.   But when the war ends, the book and its leading actors go careening to Hollywood in the era of the big studios.  The two settings couldn’t be more different.  A warm and noble humanity pervades wartime London, but once the characters get to Hollywood, Niven lets it rip.  The producers, writers and money men are gleefully portrayed as completely amoral and not very bright.  Niven really has a field day, and there’s nothing to do but sit back and enjoy a veteran actor’s take on his industry.

This book is by no means a classic, but it is a great read, and Niven does a great job setting the stage and providing an entertaining love story.