Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review ~ A Natural Woman by Carole King

A Natural Woman: A MemoirA Natural Woman: A Memoir by Carole King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love Carole King. I respect her as a person and a performer even more since I read her memoir.  She is an amazing woman in so many ways.  When I consider how much her music is the sound track for my life, I am even more amazed at her talent for writing song lyrics and music.

I found the story of her life is far from ordinary.  She has really lived quite a remarkable life in many ways.  Her life has been filled with much heartbreak and chaos.  She is also a rock of stability in so many ways.  She is an incredibly strong woman who can milk a goat, live in wild, write music that will remain long after she is gone, raise children, marry men who don't deserve her, and even survive physical abuse.  I had no idea that she had been a victim of spousal abuse before I read her book.

When I attended her Denver Troubadour Tour Concert where she performed with James Taylor in 2010, I was just weeks past the traumatic death of my 34 year old daughter.  I credit her performance with giving  me much of  the inspiration to keep on living my life fully the best way I could.  Carole King spoke to me with her music, her demeanor, and her vibrancy.  She helped bring me out of the shock of grief that had a hold on the core of my life.

As I watched her perform, I knew I would survive and thrive again.  Here was a woman from my generation who had traveled many hard roads, but she could still convincingly belt out her music.  Age and life experiences only made her ability to sing more authentic than than it had been before. Life experience made gave her more depth, more richness.   Natural woman indeed.  Rocking those curly, gray locks of hair while wearing high heels and age appropriate but still sexy attire, only added to her youthful appearance.  This woman does not hide behind styled and colored hair, or wrinkle erasers.  Face lifts have not altered her iconic looks.  She is natural.  Her blue, sparkling eyes and big smile are ageless.

That being said, I was disappointed in her book.  I read her story with interest, but I did not enjoy her writing style.  She is a song writer.  That is her genre.  Memoir is not her forte.  She exceeds the norm in most areas, but not in writing a book.

I glad I bought the book.  I'm glad I read it.  She is truly an amazing woman.  I was just disappointed in her ability to connect with her readers, who already have such a connection to her through her music,  even though she has a story to tell that is absolutely fascinating.

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LC said...

An excellent review. You successfully introduce your reader to a book that chronicles the life of an interesting, strong individual who triumphs over hardship and hard consequences of choices made. You also clearly alert us to the fact that the reading experience will not match the musical experience.

rosaria williams said...

Ah, good to know.
Don't you think sometimes all these celebrities get ghost writers to write up/transcribe their interviews into stories that chronicle a life without giving much thought to how it reads to sophisticated readers who are looking for depth and evocative imagery.

Chatty Crone said...

Well again I am sorry about your sweet daughter. I too like Carol King and I have that album and I used to belt out that song all the time. sandie

DJan said...

Thanks for the review. I'll skip it, because I have so many other things to read. You give a very strong recommendation for Carole's singing and learning about her life, which I have now done because of your post. Hugs to you, Sally, for being yourself a survivor.

Olga said...

I like Carole King and may even give the book a try. I would have to hate her if she could do absolutely everything well!

"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

On the plus side, the fact that her book sounds as if she does not have the same abilities for writing, as for music.... Makes one think that's good... In that, it wasn't a fully Ghost-written tome.

Good, in a way, yes?

Happy Midsummer's Night Eve!

"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine..."

~Oberon "Midsummer Night's Dream"

Jeanie said...

This is a most interesting review, Sally. It is indeed interesting that her memoir writing doesn't match the magic of her songs. With that in mind, this may be a book I look for at the library rather than buying. I appreciate the heads up!

Jackie said...

I have always loved Carole King's music. She is an outstanding artist.
I'm glad that her music and performance helped you as you experienced the grief that was gripping you, Sally. She was a rock that you needed at that time, and I applaud her for sharing her gifts and talents. She may never know just how much she helped you, by belting out her music in a way that touched you exactly where you needed it, but you know, and now we do too.
I send you a big hug this evening.
I hope that you are having a good week, my friend.

Barb said...

I'd love to hear her sing in concert. I did hear James Taylor at Red Rocks, but she wasn't part of the venue.

Linda Reeder said...

I must admit I don't know mch about Carole King's story. I should do some research.

Mage said...

Wonderful review. Her name will sell the book not the writing. I too love her music. Did I tell you how much I enjoyed the pictures of your husband? Great stuff. :)

Dee said...

Dear Sally, what a well-written and thoughtful review. Thank you for it. I wonder about poets--and that's what a song-writer is--and their ability to write a prose memoir. Songs and poems are pithy. They use few words to capture a whole idea and concept, feeling or happening. And so I really wonder if other poets/song writers have tried to write memoirs and how successful they were--or were not. Do you know of any others?

Friko said...

Perhaps I need to get to know her music rather than read her book. What do you think?

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

So glad I came by here and read this review. I too love her and thought about reading this book.
Maybe not I hate to be disappointed.
God Bless You honey for finding the strength you needed for the loss of your precious daughter.
I think of you often wondering how your doing.
Hope all is well

Rose said...

I appreciate your honest review, Sally. I love Carol King, too, and would love to see her in concert. I'm usually a bit leery about books written by celebrities, though; I think I'll skip this one and listen to her songs instead.

Kay said...

I've always loved Carole King's music but don't know much about her life history. What a shame that her book did not live up to her music. This is a great review, Sally.