Florence Foster Jenkins: The Inspiring True Story of the World’s Worst Singer
by Nicholas Martin and Jasper Rees
Pan

Today, Florence Foster Jenkins would appear on television talent show The X Factor as a plucky if misguided dreamer with showbiz stars in her eyes – assuming she made it through the auditions. Or she’d be included to give the world a few cheap laughs – which is what it had at her expense in the 1940s. As Jasper Rees in his biography and Nicholas Martin in his screenplay addendum remind us, coloratura soprano Jenkins was so talentless that she sold out New York’s Carnegie Hall for her sole genuine public appearance precisely because she was a discordant catastrophe. But while audiences in the private clubs in which she usually performed came to scoff, many were won over, writes Rees, by her absolute sincerity and self-belief. It didn’t hurt her ambitions, of course, that she was a rich socialite with the means to realise her dreams, or that she seemed blissfully ignorant of the widespread mockery. Now the eccentric Foster Jenkins is perhaps deservedly poised to garner a host of new fans: Martin’s screenplay is behind a new movie starring Meryl Streep (due out here on September 8).