Shawn Colvin - A Memoir - Diamond in the Rough

I was keen to read this, mainly out of curiosity. Immediately I was surprised at how engaging and easy to read it was. The next thing to strike me was the highly creative way in which it is put together.

In the introduction, Shawn admits what we have all, I suspect, always wondered…"Sunny is me." Then, in a stroke of genius, each chapter is titled with a line from that song, Sunny Came Home, starting with Light the Sky and ending with Her Favourite Room.

During the course of those twenty one chapters and an epilogue, Colvin tells us the story of her life. At times she skips ahead a little, but mainly she tells us in order of her childhood, adolescence, her early encounters with music, her musical heroes (who she later tells us of meeting.) She speaks candidly of her struggles with depression and alcoholism, yet retains a sense of humour about it all. Moving onto her adulthood, she talks of her further struggles, music, marriage, divorce and her daughter.

She has a great way with words, throughout the book. I suspect that it wasn't an easy book for her to write, although I also suspect that in so doing she may have laid a few ghosts.

Above all, it is a brutally honest insight into a woman about whom we've previously only ever known snippets of information. Having seen her play solo, not uttering a word between songs and then laughing and joking on stage recently with Mary Chapin Carpenter, I perhaps now understand why.

I also now understand the lyrics to that incredible song that has always been intriguing yet elusive in meaning. I have not only gained insight into Shawn Colvin, the singer songwriter, but into Sunny, one of the most evasive lead protagonists encountered in a song. Be they one or two, I now have the utmost respect for for Shawn and Sunny. It is true of them both that despite all encountered , She's Alright and despite it all, that Diamond in the Rough has clearly retained her sparkle.

Helen Mitchell

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