All the evidence indicates that Chris Evert Lloyd is an interesting, appealing and intelligent young woman, which only leaves one wondering how she and her less celebrated husband managed to involve themselves with a book as dreary as "Lloyd on Lloyd." The Lloyds are billed as authors -- though the book is actually a third-person narrative written by Carol Thatcher, a British journalist -- and the book is copyrighted by Evert Enterprises and John Lloyd, but there is precious little in "Lloyd on Lloyd" for which anyone would wish to take credit.
This is celebrity biography of the most fawning and subliterate variety. Thatcher oozes and coos over her subjects, fondly recounting their every move on and off the tennis court and breathlessly reciting their romantic history. Her prose is exactly appropriate to her genre: mushy, giggly, cliche'd, sycophantic. She's the sort of writer who thinks that "commentate" is a verb, and uses it as such whenever the occasion presents itself. Even had she managed to squeeze some genuinely provocative or revealing material out of her subjects, her prose would only have suffocated it.
Which is a pity, for there is probably an interesting book to be written about Chris Evert Lloyd. Though her style on the tennis court is not exactly scintillating, her personal style has a lot going for it; unlike most young people who come too suddenly to excessive wealth and adulation, she has maintained her patience with public and press alike, she remains deeply loyal to her large and close family, she is impeccably well-mannered where other players lapse into tantrums, and she has matured into an adult with a refreshing gift for self-mockery. Further, she has somehow managed to survive the public airing of every available detail about her romantic life, and she and her husband seem to have repaired their marriage after a brief separation that was, of course, fodder for the gossip columns and supermarket tabloids.
As for John Lloyd, he is not surprisingly a rather more shadowy figure. He is a handsome Englishman who once seemed his country's brightest hope on the international tennis circuit but whose game severely deteriorated not long after his marriage to Chris Evert. Although he managed to improve it during and after their separation, it remains that for the rest of his life he seems fated to be known as Mr. Chris Evert, a lot to which he has resigned himself with what looks for all the world like admirably good humor.
They are, then, two young people of apparent decency who are known throughout the world and about whom, human nature being such as it is, many of us are curious.
We turn to books such as "Lloyd on Lloyd" in hopes of satisfying at least some of that curiosity, and we have every right to be irritated when our expectations are not met. That certainly is the case with Thatcher's book, which by her own testimony was assembled in haste and which only on the most infrequent occasions goes beyond what any reasonably careful reader of the sports pages already knows.
It would have been interesting, for example, to read Evert Lloyd's opinions about the skills and temperaments of her fellow players -- opinions such as those expressed last year in Sports Illustrated by another intelligent and appealing player, Pam Shriver -- but apart from a few waspish remarks about Tracy Austin, she offers little except predictable pieties and praise. It is interesting to be told that the Lloyds' married life is "an artificial round of hotel suites, room service, tournament courtesy cars to the practice courts, matches and press conferences," but frustrating to be told almost nothing else except that they somehow cram all their clothes and tennis gear into seven suitcases and that neither of them likes flying. Obviously the global jet-set life isn't all that glamorous; too bad, then, that Thatcher makes no real effort to describe its texture -- to give us, perhaps, a week in the life of John and Chris Lloyd.
As for the intimate details of their marriage, Thatcher rarely goes beyond what's already been in People or the National Star. It is news to me that as John allowed his game to deteriorate Chris "started losing respect" (her own words) for him, with the result that she began to question the strength of their marriage, but that may well be old hat to readers of the National Enquirer; it is, in any event, a public confession of the sort that really does not need to be made -- who on earth can gain from it? -- and is embarrassing to read.
It's about the best, though, that Carol Thatcher can come up with. Perhaps she was restrained by her subjects, in whose hire she seems to have been, and if so she should not be faulted for it. But her prose is hers alone, and for that she has no one else to blame.