This is the follow-up to David Niven's first memoir (The Moon's a Balloon), but this book is centered on the stories of Niven's friends and co-stars and directors. In other words, it's a wonderful recollection of the Golden Age of Hollywood but told in a gentlemanly fashion.

Niven was part of the Hollywood Raj, that group of ex-pat Englishmen who played cricket at the park off Sunset Boulevard and ate roast beef on Sundays, regardless of the California heat. There are hundreds of books about the cinema during the studio system, but somehow Mr. Niven's tales are the best.

The crash of falling Selznicks was frequently heard around midnight in Hollywood high society.

His zingers are classy, not the TMZ trash currently expounded. You can tell he holds back or changes some details to be fair to his subjects, but the reading is still fun. His "Missy" revelation is startling, as it details the mental breakdown of Vivien Leigh (though he never mentions her name) and illustrates the high level of stress and expectations placed upon the studio stars of that era.

I rarely read a book more than once, but I couldn't resist picking this up again when the sun was blazing, the pool was calling, and I had just finished a long walk past some of the glorious desert abodes of the folks who had faces back then.

Book Season = Summer (find some shade)