Beverley Craven

Title: Truth Be Told: My Autobiography

Beverley Craven admits that writing her autobiography was unintentional; she is not an avid reader, but the urge to write it simply became too overwhelming for her to ignore. She also admits that heeding advice to direct her story to a particular reader, she wrote it for herself and her children for "when my memory turns to mush." It seems to me that this direction is the book's standout quality; it remains personal throughout.

Interestingly, it doesn't start at the beginning. It begins with her Breast Cancer experience in 1995, which she retells with movingly, yet with humour and acceptance, in a very succinct manner. In fact, having seen her perform, it is no real surprise to learn that when the news was delivered, her response was "Oh bollocks."

During the course of the book we learn of her childhood (I didn't know she was born in Sri Lanka then moved to England), her siblings, friends, sport and her earliest experiences with music. She tells us of leaving home for London, her early adulthood and how she got into songwriting. Of course, she talks of that hit, Promise Me, Top of The Pops, overcoming stage nerves, being in the charts and of being pregnant at the Brits. Not once is thereon, a hint of arrogance and she certainly doesn't try to paint an exotic picture of the music business; it is clear that she has remained through it all, very level headed.

Moving on, Beverley explains her reasons for leaving music, to be a mother to her three girls, her divorce from her husband and her motivations to get back into music after all those years away. It is clear that now however, she is choosing to do so on her own terms. Perhaps that is the advantage of age and experience which she didn't have back then?

Truthfully, it isn't perfect writing. Does it matter? Not at all. It is engaging from start to finish, engrossing, compelling, hard hitting and entertaining, all at once. Ultimately, on finishing, it feels like a friend just shared their life story with you. It leaves a greater insight of and appreciation for the Bev we all know who laughs and jokes on stage, hides her shyness and belts out Promise Me like it still 1991. I have to wonder, now, if she really knows just how fabulous she is?...

Helen Mitchell

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Promise Me

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