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The hazards and secrets of the book trade and writing for television and the theatre are revealed and co-mingle with the joys of travel, family and entertaining. The alarums and excursions of an arson attack and the efforts to ease the lot of fellow writers imprisoned for their beliefs in democracy are eclipsed temporarily as Rosemary Friedman emerges from the valley of the shadow of death into which she is unexpectedly precipitated. With her skill and acute eye she takes us behind the scenes of the theatre (in which applause is the writer’s personal laurel wreath) and lets us into the machinations of auditions, directors and stage managers and the dynamics of plays themselves in which every actor is expected to be ‘dead letter perfect’. In summing up she concludes (with WS Gilbert) that life ‘ – is a joke that’s just begun’.