From This Moment On: An Autobiography by Shania Twain (Atria Books, $27.99, 448 pages; Audioworks/Simon & Schuster Audio, $29.99, 7 CDs)
An autobiography from a 45-year-old? Oh my, yes! Shania Twain has done enough living in her 45 years to put most everyone else in her age group into the category of slacker. Shania’s deep love of music and the comfort it has provided through a really hard life gives her the right to tell her story. Although she has received the accolades only dreamed about by singer/songwriters the world over, it is doubtful many of them have experienced the level of childhood deprivation and anxiety that motivates her career.
The version reviewed here is an audio book that is unique because the introduction and epilogue are recorded in Shania’s own voice. The text of the autobiography is read by Broadway actress and writer, Sherie Rene Scott. Scott’s voice resonates with the simple, straightforward attitude conveyed by Shania’s words. Most autobiographies are intended to provide the writer’s side of a story or an event of particular note. In this case, the narrative serves to inform the public that becoming a world-wide success in the music industry is a daunting task with serious downsides.
Ms. Twain, who began her singing career very early in life as Eilleen Twain, did so at the prompting of her mother. The family often did not have enough to eat or a secure roof over their heads. The tale is straight out of a mournful country song. Daddy and mommy are trapped in a cycle of poverty and spousal abuse, the children are forced to become self-indulgent at a very young age, and tragedy strikes just when Eileen thinks she has escaped the grip of her childhood.
There’s no need to dwell on the timeline or life events that serve as milestones. The internet has taken care of the particulars for anyone who can use Google. Rather, it is the one-on-one experience of hearing about Shania’s feelings of yearning and betrayal that are the payoff for a reader/listener. In some way, the audio book seems the best way to experience her life. True, there’s no checking back a few pages when a particular passage is noteworthy; however, enough of her wisdom comes across in the telling that the essence is clear and well experienced.
One curiosity of note is that the vocabulary and grammar in the book are well beyond the level of formal education that Shania received in her childhood. She states that when she was out on her own, she spent time writing songs and playing music while her roommates attended college. Perhaps Shania absorbed the tone of the more educated people around her. There’s no doubt that she has a great capacity to learn and benefit from her diligent efforts. That said, a thoughtful and sensitive editor no doubt assisted in making this a compelling read (or listen).
A copy of the audiobook was purchased by the reviewer’s husband. From This Moment On is also available as an Audible Audio, Kindle Edition, and Nook Book download.