CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 7 . . . .November 25, 2005
Show business has more than its fair share of rags-to-riches stories, and the life of Eileen Regina Edwards, born in Timmins, ON, but known to the world as the international singing sensation, Shania Twain, certainly qualifies as one of those iconic tales. This is the story of “[a] tiny woman with the big voice who had risen from poverty to the rarefied panoply of stardom, a woman who, for all the photographs of her impossibly-toned midriff, is still most comfortable in denim.”
Certainly, Eileen/Shania has experienced some very tough times: her mother’s struggles, not only as a single parent but also with her own personal difficulties; the death of her parents in a car crash, leaving Eileen to raise her siblings while she supported them through working as an entertainer at a local resort; the challenge of remaining focused on a musical career that would lead her far from Timmins. Still, her music is “relentlessly upbeat” despite “the harshness of her early life,” and very hard work, along with the support of her talented (and equally ambitious) producer-husband, John Lange, have made her the star that she is.
Her long and sometimes rocky road to success is detailed in 12 chapters, many of which bear titles reflecting well-known Shania hits: “Any Town of Mine”, “The Woman in Me”, “UP!” and so on. The book is written in typical “fan-zine” style, with plenty of “Shania Fan Facts,” pull quotes, a discography, awards list, and black-and-white glamour shots, every few pages. At times, the detail is exhaustive, and the references to “our Shania,” a bit cloying. Certainly, the portrait drawn is unbelievably flattering, and despite the continual insistence on Shania’s homey, down-to-earth self (nurtured by life in a Swiss chateau), I wondered just how much was the product of the “star-making machinery behind the popular song” (to quote another Canadian musician, Joni Mitchell).
Shania Twain: Hometown Canadian to International Superstar is an easily-read, reasonably-priced, single source of biographical information for biographical profile and report assignments at the early years of high school. However, readers should be aware that, like Shania’s songs, it, too, is relentlessly upbeat. A real biography needs more.
Recommended with reservations.
Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.