From anyone else, this would be outrageous name-dropping, but actor Dame Eileen Atkins has gone toe to toe with them all over a career spanning seven decades and countless triumphs, the first few of which are documented in her richly enjoyable memoir, Will She Do?
There is something about those large eyes and that steadfast look that tells you that you are in the presence of a remarkable actor; and so it has proved in a career that has encompassed everything from Greek tragedy and Ibsen to Pinter and Albee, and that has led Atkins to be revered on both sides of the Atlantic . . . Vanessa Redgrave seems to have direct access to some other world. Judi Dench has the capacity to merge laughter and tears in a single moment. The greatness of Eileen Atkins, who is their peer, lies in her uncanny emotional directness and her ability to make her eyes the window to her soul
For some of us she cannot be on stage enough . . . she makes you feel the particular thing she is doing can only be for you . . . And I would give away all my West End tickets to again watch Eileen Atkins, peerlessly subtle, conjuring up Shakespeare's women - and one of his men - in her one-person show
Atkins's [memoir] is bliss: so funny and atmospheric and true. It's not only that she has a way of bringing her more antic characters vividly to life ( that goes for Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness as well as the pretentious Madame Yandie). She's honest about herself, too, as content to relate her humiliations as her triumphs
Will She Do? displays the emotional intelligence, acute observation, wry humour and above all honesty that distinguish Atkins's acting...this is an exhilarating portrait of an actress who has surmounted seemingly insuperable odds to reach the pinnacle of her profession. The answer to the question in the title is self-evident.
Will there be a further volume? I hope so. Cross and impatient Eileen may be, but as an actress she is at the top of the pyramid, and as a writer she is very fine, with a wit drier than a martini.
Eileen Atkins's memoir Will She Do? is just a tiny bit better than the one I've recently published. It hurts me deeply to say that, but hers is a glorious book, and fascinating on the English class system. She's only seven years older than me - she's 87 - but she showed me a working-class world I didn't know at all
I really hope she's planning to write a few more volumes. She's a gifted storyteller, who writes evocatively about her childhood on a Tottenham council estate in the Second World War, and has a knack for a sharp anecdote. And oh, those anecdotes! . . . A rollicking ride through the early career of one of our greatest acting dames
Yes, she will: this vivid, honest memoir by a great actress and a natural writer goes down a treat