Billy Connolly by Pamela Stephenson

Published: 2002Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Harper Collins
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non Fiction/Biography
★   ★   ★  ★  ★  – 5 Stars

1427408The inside story of the one of the most successful British stand-up comedians, as told by the person best qualified to reveal all about the man behind the comic, his wife of over 20 years – Pamela Stephenson. Once in a lifetime, there strides upon the stage someone who can truly be called a legend. Such a person is the inimitable, timeless genius who is Billy Connolly. His effortlessly wicked whimsy has entranced, enthralled – and split the sides of – thousands upon thousands of adoring audiences.

He’s the man who needs no introduction, and yet he is the ultimate enigma. From a troubled and desperately poor childhood in the docklands of Glasgow he is now the intimate of household names the world over. How did this happen, who is the real Billy Connolly? Only one person can answer that question: his wife, Pamela Stephenson. Pamela’s writing combines the very personal with a frank objectivity that makes for a compelling, moving and hugely entertaining biography. This is the real Billy Connolly.

This is a great biography of the best comedian by the most suitable person. Who better than Billy’s own wife to write a well deserved and respectful biography.

When I read this it was before I really got into Billy Connolly. I had seen a few bits and pieces and loved what I saw but I didn’t have access to see anything else. Reading this book gave me so many more insights into his life and work and made me respect him all the more.

Billy’s life was not perfect by any means and he had a rough upbringing. The stories and memories Stephenson explores break your heart, make you laugh and actually don’t make you close the book pitying Billy at all. You see where he has taken this pain and what he has done with it and you applaud him for pressing on and pushing through it.

There are so many sides of Billy explored in this, from his childhood to his music and comedian days as well as his life with Stephenson. This book is filled with jokes and humorous anecdotes that soften the darker aspects but a true biography is never all smiles and laughter. A brilliant book and an engaging, emotional and entertaining read.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

Published: 1st December 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Timbuktu Labs
Pages: 212
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Non Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children’s book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the life of 100 extraordinary women from the past and the present, illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world. This book inspires girls with the stories of great women, from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams.

This is a brilliant book. It is a precursor to other great books like She Persisted which tell the stories of history’s most famous and often forgotten women whose achievements have changed the world and inspired those around them.

I loved the format of these stories. The one page biographies for each of these amazing women is a wonderful experience to read. They are told in the same vein of fairytales with the “There once there was a…” style introductions, but these stories are far from fairytales. Each of these incredible women have defied the odds and succeeded in their chosen fields, often when many, including many men, told them they couldn’t or shouldn’t.

It is truly an inspiring read to see what these women have gone through and how they have overcome various obstacles and become stronger for it and achieved their dreams and their goals. Favilli and Cavallo have brought together 100 of history’s greatest women from around the globe, across fields, and throughout history and shared their stories with the world. The list of rebel girls include an A-Z of pioneers from Ada Lovelace all the way down to Zaha Hadid. You can’t help but get a bit emotional as you read these stories, strength and resilience of these women and girls don’t define them, but their passion and determination is admirable and empowering.

“When a woman decides to change, everything changes around her” – Eufrosina Cruz

“We will no longer negotiate for our existence” – Fadumo Dayib

These biographies are told simply but with power. From the very first page the preface lets us know that this is an important book, one that has brought understanding, hope and inspiration to many of the readers. It is a book filled with so many inspirational messages from a variety of fields and backgrounds. Each accompanied by a beautiful illustration by a range of female artists that capture who these fabulous women are and were.

These are the kinds of books we need to keep creating. History has forgotten and pushed aside so many amazing women and their achievements, and there are enough of them throughout history to fill many more books to come. Something I can only hope continues to happen.

“It is important that girls understand the obstacles that lie in front of them. It is just as important that they know these obstacles are not insurmountable. That not only can they find a way to overcome them, but that they can remove those obstacles for those who will come after them, just like these great women did.”

You can purchase Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Wordery

Angus & Robertson | Dymocks

Audible | Fishpond

Little Miss Sure Shot: Annie Oakley’s World by Jeffrey Marshall

Published: 5th May 2014Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Self Published
Pages: 148
Format: ebook
Genre: Biography/Historical
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Little Miss Sure Shot is a fictionalized account of the life of Annie Oakley, drawing heavily on the real timelines and events of her life. However, the book is not a biography – it invents situations, people she meets, and a myriad of conversations. Moreover, while the book is presented chronologically, apart from the prologue, it skips certain periods and attempts to focus on those that are especially vital, such as the early years Annie spent with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, including the tours through Europe. A special feature of the novel is the framing of Annie’s loving marriage to fellow sharpshooter Frank Butler, whom she married at sixteen and remained married to for 50 years until her death. Frank was far more than just her husband – he was her manager (he gave up his own shooting for that role) and her constant companion. The novel closes with an epilogue in Frank’s voice, presenting an overview of their lives together and the circumstances of her death in 1926.

Little Miss Sure Shot is a fictionalized account of the life of Annie Oakley, drawing heavily on the real timelines and events of her life. However, the book is not a biography – it invents situations, people she meets, and a myriad of conversations. Moreover, while the book is presented chronologically, apart from the prologue, it skips certain periods and attempts to focus on those that are especially vital, such as the early years Annie spent with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, including the tours through Europe. A special feature of the novel is the framing of Annie’s loving marriage to fellow sharpshooter Frank Butler, whom she married at sixteen and remained married to for 50 years until her death. Frank was far more than just her husband – he was her manager (he gave up his own shooting for that role) and her constant companion. The novel closes with an epilogue in Frank’s voice, presenting an overview of their lives together and the circumstances of her death in 1926. 

Note: I was provided a copy of this book for review.

 Not knowing anything about Annie Oakley before starting this book I was not sure what I was in for but it wasn’t long before I became engrossed with the story. Marshall has been quite clever in his presentation of this book, stating clearly that it is not a biography, but it is also not a novel either. Somewhere in the middle is this book that looks at key moments in Oakley’s life, and explores her rise to stardom and life in the spotlight with a few fictional elements added.

There is not a lot of dialogue or plot, and being a semi-fictionalised account of Oakley’s life it isn’t supposed to have a plot per se, but Marshall writes in such a way that it has a narrative feel which also makes the story flow nicely. I liked that it read more like a novel than a nonfiction biography, having said that the writing does have an informative tone to it mixes this with snippets of dialogue and scenes that balance it out nicely.

Annie’s life is presented chronologically, though there are brief references to future moments or memories of the past, but Marshall connects these together smoothly and doesn’t jar the story with them. While Marshall admits this not a true biography, there is no doubting it has a great deal of information about Oakley’s life. Marshall explores Annie’s childhood and how she started shooting at 8 years old, and he also focuses intensely on her time with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. One of the great and consistent elements in the story though is the exploration of Oakley’s marriage with Frank. As her husband for 50 years it is wonderful to see their connection grow and the influence he had on her life.

While the Wild West show was interesting, discovering about life during that time and the difference in society across Europe and America not to mention Annie’s place within them was fascinating. It was also wonderful to discover just how famous Annie was and the impact she had on the world. As a person she comes across as someone who is independent and knew what she wanted, and she was determined to be herself no matter what. Her strong ideals, ingenuity, and her desire that every woman should learn to shoot makes her a wonderful woman and key part of history, something which Marshall captures wonderfully.

I really enjoyed this book and I loved learning about Annie Oakley and her life. The problem of not being a real biography means there is an uncertainty about certain facts and events, but Marshall’s recount about Annie’s life piques your interest and curiosity in just the right way to want to go and learn more about her. Knowing this biography is based on some element of truth though makes the sad bits sadder but the good bits greater and there is no doubt it is a charming and heart-warming story and one of admiration for Annie and the life she lead.

You can purchase Little Miss Sure Shot via the following

Amazon

Amazon Aus

Amazon UK

Book Bingo BookBiography