The Young Pretender: Reviews

‘An engrossing, enthralling and utterly captivating read, The Young Pretender tells a simply remarkable story with bounce, energy, wit, and lively authenticity… Michael Arditti’s brilliant imaginative achievement offers high comedy, dark tragedy and everything between.’
Stephen Fry

‘An absolute joy – charming and funny, with the lightest hint of melancholy,  and a wonderfully imaginative recreation ofthe Georgian theatre scene.’
Kate Saunders

‘Just wonderful: so delicate and precise about performance, pretence and      youth, with such a feeling for GeorgianLondon. It’s so well-written, I found  myself admiring it from end toend.’
Andrew O’Hagan

‘Michael Arditti tells a story of a Regency child star with great panache and compassion, bringing a forgottencelebrity back to life for the modern age.  A compelling read.  I was sad to finish.’
Linda Grant

‘The captivating tale of Master Betty is written with great flair and emotional complexity.  I didn’t want it to end.’
Susie Boyt

‘Based on the true story of 19th century child actor William Betty, Michael Arditti’s new novel poses some fascinating questions about the nature of fame and success… it is a moving and disturbing story, and Arditti tells it with understanding and engaging sympathy.  A complete success.’
Alan Massie, The Scotsman

‘The first person narrative endears, as Arditti blends tragedy and comedy.  There won’t be a dry eye in the house.’
Rose Shepherd, Saga

‘Persuasively told in the actor’s voice, this short, compelling novel records the crumbling of Betty’s dreams of renewed acclaim and his slow acknowledgement of uncomfortable truths about his childhood stardom.’
Nick Rennison, Sunday Times

‘Arditti’s voice as Betty is impeccable.  He is touchy, sometimes myopic, sincere in his ambitions.  His attempts to reclaim lost glory are run through with an affecting melancholy.’
Antonia Senior, The Times

‘An impeccably researched novel and a compelling read about the fickle nature of fashion.  Arditti transports us to another time and reminds us that the perils of early fame and fortune are nothing new.’
Lucy Popescu, Camden New Journal

‘The Young Pretender is a scintillating departure, bringing to life the vanished world of the Georgian theatre with great skill.  And as a study of fame’s dark side and the pressures on child stars, it shows how little has changed.’
Suzi Feay, Financial Times

‘Michael Arditti’s witty, poignant tale… Arditti weaves colourful theatrical history lightly through his novella, bringing the London stage to life with its boisterous audiences and rivalries between actor/managers always with an eye on the takings and well-connected patronage.’
Susan Osborne, A Life in Books

‘What struck me very quickly was the sustained and authentic Georgian vernacular. The skilful use of language transported me back in time… The book is also a marvellous account of theatre in Georgian England and offers a potent social history perspective.’

‘A vivid, highly detailed portrait of life in rumbustious Regency London.’
Anthony Gardiner, Mail on Sunday

‘Child abuse is the most difficult subject on which to write, and few are the authors who dare to do so… Michael Arditti’s treatment of the subject is not shrouded in Jamesian ambiguity, but is no less subtle for that. As for his recreation of the theatre in the Regency, it is faultless. Master Betty has been forgotten, which is a pity, as the lesson he can teach is an important one; this book brings him back to life in a posthumous triumph.’
Alexander Lucie-Smith, The Tablet

‘I loved how Arditti conjures…the smell of the theatre and the ghosts of these bygone players that haunt the stage…and the wonderful period details. Arditti wears his research so lightly’
Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, BBC Front Row

‘Arditti’s huge achievement is tuning in to the authentic voice of his protagonist, narrator and star. I am completely convinced that this is exactly how Betty spoke and how he would write… It is both sparkling with wit and shot through with sadness: a winning combination.’    Adèle Geras, Reviews by Writers

‘The Young Pretender is one of the best novels about the theatre I have ever read. Mr Arditti does many things. He brilliantly captures the feverish adulation of Master Betty, the financial exploitation of his fame and the sexual curiosity his presence aroused. This is also a novel about the transience of celebrity, the capricious bustle of Georgian London and the politics of theatre in which actors like John Philip Kemble, Dora Jordan and William Macready make memorable appearances. I would recommend the novel not just to theatre addicts but to anyone intrigued by the whirligig of time.’ Michael Billington

Arditti ‘executes a sustained pastiche of early 19th century English with impressive facility, not an anachronism in sight.  Georgian Britain, especially theatreland, comes vividly to life… Betty might not have easily recognised himself in this account of his life, but he would surely have appreciated the dramatic qualities of Arditti’s storytelling.’ Alun David, Jewish Chronicle

‘Arditti’s evocation of Regency England is breathtaking. The historical details are so skilfully handled that it is hard to know where the facts end and the fiction begins… The Young Pretender  is a fresh, witty, and ultimately moving addition to his oeuvre.’      Rachel Mann, Church Times