This was a moving account of an indomitable and spirited individual, whose childhood shaped her for both better and for worse. I have never been drawn to the author's fiction, but this biography is worth reading for several reasons. Firstly, it is well written and well read, by the author. Secondly, it gives poignant insights into a particular northern lifestyle of the fifties and sixties, one where the values and norms of the day seem like a distant history lesson. And, thirdly, it is entertaining. I found the non-linear style different to most autobiographies, but it worked quite well and covered up for omissions of quite large periods of Janette's life. It was a little as if she was pulling jigsaw pieces out of a bag and showing you them. Some pieces of the picture joined up, some bits came together at different times. And in some places there were holes that were never filled in. She has kept some pieces of the jigsaw in the bag, perhaps she will reveal them later.
If you like reading biographies, then you are likely to like this one.
I was unsure whether to buy and listen to this book because of the low star rating and what I considered might be ambiguous review extracts. However, I am glad that I bought it, although it will not be to everyone's taste.
Freeman seems to have become obsessed by Chandler as an author and of his marriage to an older woman. She wanted to write a book about these topics, but for some reason she put it off for many years. Eventually she decided to do it. She thoroughly researched Chandler's life, by accessing university archives as well as visiting the many addresses of places he lived, which seemed to give her real inspiration. The result is a very well written account of Chandler's life that is also really well read by Suzanne Toren. Toren gives a wonderful perfomance, and she has a voice with more than a hint of Lauren Bacall; perfect for this subject.
I imagine that the author is an academic, as she is so thorough in her research. Her prose is also out of the top drawer, which makes listening a pleasure in itself. In fact the prose is so good that you do not notice it. On the other hand, the narrative is a little re-enterant, with little eddys that come around and revisit an issue now and again. Also, although there is a lot of factual information, there is also a great deal of speculation, but that too is a pleasure of the book that Freeman has shared her obsession with us in such an open and compelling way.
It is hard to know who will like this book. I suspect that you will either love it or hate it. If you like biographies then you will probably like this. If you do not like Jane Austin then you will probably not like this. These are the best two steers that I can give.
I really like Rod Stewart's music and his highly entertaining performances. So, I wanted to read more about his life, beyond what I had read in the tabloids. This autobiography provides a candid insight into the charmed life of a talented, but non-academic artist. It is completely congruent with the tabloid image of a free spirit who has had more than his fair share of fast cars, beautiful women, drugs and immense luck. On the one hand Rod appears to be amoral, self-centred and above the law. On the other hand, his honesty, charm and young at heart approach is hard not to warm to. He was a working class boy who grasped opportunities with both hands and brought joy to the masses, through his music and songs. This is a well told story of Rod’s life so far.