A review of The Last Days of Leda Grey by Essie Fox

During the oppressive heat wave of 1976 a young journalist, Ed Peters, finds an Edwardian photograph in a junk shop in the Brighton Lanes. It shows an alluring, dark-haired girl, an actress whose name was Leda Grey.

Enchanted by the image, Ed learns Leda Grey is still living - now a recluse in a decaying cliff-top house she once shared with a man named Charles Beauvois, a director of early silent film. As Beauvois's muse and lover, Leda often starred in scenes where stage magic and trick photography were used to astonishing effect. 

But, while playing a cursed Egyptian queen, the fantasies captured on celluloid were echoed in reality when Beauvois suspected a love affair between Leda and her leading man. A horrific accident left Leda abandoned and alone for more than half a century - until Ed Peters finds her and hears the secrets of her past, resulting in a climax more haunting than any to be found in the silent films of Charles Beauvois.

Paperback, 360 pages
Expected publication: November 3rd 2016 by Orion
Title:  The Last Days of Leda Grey

Theda Bara

Since, The Last Days of Leda Grey by Essie Fox is soon to be published it makes my review a bit difficult. I cannot go into as much detail as I want to. It will be hard to hold myself back but understand in order for the reader to completely get lost in this gorgeous story, I must refrain from gushing. It will be a first for me!~   

 Theda Bara

 'Leda Grey' is told from the male perspective of journalist, Ed Peters who in 1976 walks into a shop to look around when he sees an old photograph of a silent film actress. He falls instantly in love with this coal black eyed, raven haired beauty. When the store owner tells him that Leda Grey is still alive and living nearby in a cliff-top house called, White Cliff he is off in a shot to find his enchantress.  

There is much more to the store owner and his relationship with recluse, Leda Grey. As for Ed Peters, well, his curiosity to find this beauty, now old, grey haired and withered by time, will change both their lives forever. 

 Theda Bara

What I just adored about this story was meeting old recluse Leda Grey.  What must have happened during this young, teenage girl's short film career to result in her locking herself away for years? Why would a young woman choose to live alone, isolated in her crumbling abode with rarely any human contact instead of venturing out into the real world? Even with the past of a brief acting career, some secrets should be left alone undisturbed only to be viewed on celluloid or on a movie screen in a crowded movie house stinking of stale oiled buttered popcorn with nothing but the echoes of the hum of the projector running upstairs in a locked room. 

 Theda Bara in The She Devil, 1918

Author, Essie Fox has done something truly impossible. She has taken the persona of a well-known movie actress, transported her back into 1976 aged and mentally effusive. Having three male counterparts, one an old ghostly lover, Charles Beauvois to tell aspects of her film career.  It is brilliant I tell you.  Also, Leda Grey herself unlocks her past secrets through clues hidden within her silent films made with Charles Beauvois. Journalist, Ed Peters is along for the ride as he pieces together this once beautiful woman's hidden past. Now, what is discovered and what occurs is beautifully written through journalistic interviews between Ed Peters and Leda Grey. 

The Last Days of Leda Grey is Essie Fox's best written work yet!  I cannot convey this enough how much I fell in love with her characters, the setting, the music of the nineteen seventies, her descriptions, her words, the story is ethereal in nature, Gothic in tone and dripping with gorgeous prose.   

Theda Bara film

To purchase your copy of The Last Days of Leda Grey in the United Kingdom,  Amazon UK

If you live in the U.S., and want to buy The Last Days of Leda Grey visit,  Book Depository



Hels said…
" Why would a young woman choose to live alone, isolated in her crumbling abode with rarely any human contact instead of venturing out into the real world?" What a good question. Because some young women were so melodramatic that normal life could not go on, following the ........... (fill out the blank yourself with something devastating).

In Chesil Beach, Florence accidentally noticed a tiny amount of her husband's semen and ran away to a life of permanent isolation. Who knows what was in some peoples' minds?
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi ya Hels,
You are funny! Good to see you here again.
Thanks for commenting.
Nick Holland said…
Great review Kimberly! This sounds like a must add for my 'to read' list!
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi Nick,
I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have.
Thanks for stopping by!