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Girls Like Us (Weller) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
Captivating. And it defies expectations, to the point where Ms. Weller's grand ambitions wind up fulfilled…Girls Like Us is a strong amalgam of nostalgia, feminist history, astute insight, beautiful music and irresistible gossip about the common factors in the three women's lives.
Janet Maslin - New York Times


Weller, a journalist whose other books include the 2003 memoir Dancing at Ciro's, is…interested in exploring how these three distinct yet dovetailing artists bucked the expectations that had been laid out for them by previous generations and blazed a new path for women to follow. She's only partly successful: the book unintentionally makes the case that two of these women changed things for themselves more than for anyone else. Then again, even self-determination has value, and much of Girls Like Us is entertaining and intelligent, thanks to Weller's skills as a storyteller and her understanding of the musical traditions that inspired each of her subjects…She's also perceptive about the social milieus that, kicking and screaming, these women had to bust out of.
Stephanie Zacharek - New York Times Book Review

 

Let's get one thing clear right from the start—this is a fabulous book...Girls like Us unfolds with drama and panoramic detail. Written with a keen journalistic and, more importantly, female eye, [it] works as a healthy, long overdue counterweight to the endlessly repeated, male-sided version of rock 'n roll. Before these women broke the cultural sod during the rock 'n roll years, there were no girls like us. Now there are millions.
Caitlin Moran - Sunday Times (London)


Even at 500-plus pages, the book goes down as easy as a Grisham yarn on a vacation flight... The only flaw to Girls Like Us is that it comes to an end. Few people lead lives as action-packed and spiritually opulent as Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon did during such intensely interesting times. And few writers are able to impart so much freight with such vigor. The towering triumvirate got what it deserves.
Toronto Sun


Juicy... I doubt I'll listen to Mitchell's songs again without considering the child she gave up for adoption... and her subsequent bouts with depression or hear the oft-married King's music without thinking of her tumultuous relationships. As for Simon, Weller captures fully both the richness and glamour of her romantic life and the profound sensitivity that made her especially vulnerable to ex-husband James Taylor's drug abuse and the cavalier charm of Warren Beatty.
USA Today


As an avid music reader, sometime reviewer, and teen of the '60s myself, I was sure I knew just about everything there was to know about Carole, Joni, and Carly.... But Girls Like Us, an ambitious collective biography by six-time author and magazine journalist Sheila Weller, showed me exactly how much I didn't know. This absorbing, well-reported book chronicles a time when women in all walks of life were exercising new-found freedom. And as icons of that era, nobody did it better.
Christian Science Monitor


An avid music reader, sometime reviewer, and teen of the '60s myself, I was sure I knew just about everything there was to know about Carole, Joni, and Carly.... But Girls Like Us, an ambitious collective biography by six-time author and magazine journalist Sheila Weller, showed me exactly how much I didn't know. This absorbing, well-reported book chronicles a time when women in all walks of life were exercising new-found freedom. And as icons of that era, nobody did it better.
Ladies Home Journal


Half collective biography, half music-industry dish about three singer-songwriters who represented a generation of women on "a course of self-discovery, change, and unhappy confrontation with the limits of change. Vanity Fair and Glamour contributor Weller (Dancing at Ciro's: A Family's Love, Loss, and Scandal on the Sunset Strip, 2003, etc.) doesn't veer from the traditional image of her subjects. Carole King is the Brill Building tunesmith whose vinyl warmth reflected earth-mother instincts; Joni Mitchell, the Canadian prairie-born poet/artist whose yearning for love and commitment conflicted with the need for freedom (and its concomitant loneliness) that fueled her greatest songs; and Carly Simon, the neurotic, alarmingly candid and sexy Manhattan chanteuse. The author has pored over numerous documents concerning these three and interviewed scores of current or former lovers, friends, colleagues and relatives. Reflecting this prodigious legwork, many pages are crammed with the longest parentheses this side of Faulkner. Weller's prose frequently falls into cliche (Mitchell's "exorcising of demons"), and although she dutifully proclaims her subjects' stories to be tales of feminine empowerment, she more often sounds like Gossip Girl. The narrative frequently becomes a roundelay of ecstasy, insensitivity, drugs, madness, betrayal and loss at the hands of the men that got away, including James Taylor, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Jackson Browne, Leonard Cohen and Gerry Goffin (King's first husband and collaborator). Weller neglects the musicianship behind some of the memorable songs of the last half-century: You'd never know, for instance, that Mitchell's open style of tuning landed her on a Rolling Stone list of the 100 greatest guitarists in rock history. Yet the author's research has unearthed so much little-known material (including King's "Rick One/Rick Two period": successive marriages to Idaho mountain men) that her account is essential for understanding how three female superstars survived male chauvinism, romantic disaster and late-career neglect by the music industry to become icons. Definitely a guilty pleasure, but still a solid contribution to the story of 20th-century popular music.
Kirkus Reviews




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