by Lucy Ellis and Bryony Sutherland Aurum $224 So much has been written about Nicole Kidman, her films and her relationship with that man, that anyone following her story will already be familiar with the bones of this book. From her early years as a gangly Sydney schoolgirl, authors Ellis and Sutherland trace Kidman's ascension to stardom - through her acting and as one half of Hollywood's former royal couple - ending just months short of perhaps her greatest achievement, this year's best actress Oscar for The Hours. After early success in a string of Australian films, TV shows and miniseries, word of Kidman's talent reached the US and, in 1981, Disney offered her a role in the children's series Five Mile Creek, which was also filmed in Australia. The exposure piqued American interest, but it wasn't until 1989, when 27-year-old Hollywood heart-throb Tom Cruise took a friend to see her in Dead Calm that Kidman says she was 'thrown into a situation that was far bigger than I could ever have imagined'. Enchanted, Cruise flew her to Los Angeles to audition for a part opposite him in Days Of Thunder. Although Kidman was in a long-term relationship with Australian actor Marcus Graham, and Cruise was married to actress Mimi Rogers, his 'great biceps' won her over and it wasn't long before she moved to LA. From then on, Kidman's life, relationship and career have been dissected and analysed, with plenty of speculation thrown in. This book continues that trend. Although the prologue kicks off, 'When Nicole Kidman permits interviews, she is surprisingly accessible', it is never made clear whether the authors - who have also written biographies of Kylie Minogue, Annie Lennox and Tom Jones - were themselves granted such permission. Compiled with the help of a team of researchers, The Biography is a pastiche of interviews, media reports and rumour. 'The tabloids had a field day speculating over every aspect of their marriage', and so it seems did Ellis and Sutherland. Comments such as 'Nicole must have let him down gently', 'surely the actress must have been concerned', and 'one can only begin to imagine', suggest a lack of contact between the authors and their subject. As a result, when the book isn't deshelling old chestnuts - Is Tom gay? Are they infertile? Was the marriage one of convenience? - it seems more filmography than biography, with in-depth accounts of Kidman's roles, on-set relationships, premieres and reviews. As interesting as this is for anyone with a passing interest in Kidman or Cruise, whose background is also covered, Ellis and Sutherland fail to shed much new light on a life - and relationship - that has been under public scrutiny for more than a decade. Those hoping to gain an insight into the reason for their break-up have to make do with little more than an elaboration of the press coverage at the time. Nonetheless, the authors flesh out what is already public knowledge in a lively way, even if the facts sometimes get a bit mangled. Scientology is not banned in Australia, as they say, Russell Crowe's band is 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts, Kidman sang five songs on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, not two, and it was Nicolas, not Anne, who asked Kidman's character in The Others when his father would return. Occasionally gushy - 'Nicole's face was back on billboards, where it belonged' - the authors offer their own critique of Kidman's films. Although sometimes critical of the overall result, our girl usually manages to come out unscathed. There are plenty of great anecdotes and interesting tidbits, among them the couple's first kiss (mid-air while skydiving), Cruise's desperate rescue attempt when his wife was lost overnight on a volcano on Sicily, and working with 'despotic' director Stanley Kubrick on Eyes Wide Shut, which took two-and-a-half years to film - the longest shoot in major studio history.