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Tuesday, 14 August 2012

All of Me by Claire Richards

All Of Me: My Story

Claire Richards, young, fit and with a figure to die for, reached the dizzying heights of fame in the hit band Steps when she was only twenty. When she left, and Steps split shortly after, the world was shocked by the news. Now, writing with incredible honesty, Claire tells her story, from her teenage music career to her big break with Steps. She reveals that while in the band she faced harsh pressure to stay thin, and starved herself for years. Feeling broken by the experience, she finally left and sank into a pit of depression, gaining huge amounts of weight and losing all self-esteem. Believing her career was over, she also had to cope with a painful split from her Steps dancer husband. Thankfully finding love with her now husband, Reece, got her back on track. He didn't care about her size; he just wanted Claire. And, after seeing her weight go up and down for years, Claire has refused to diet any more. Happily married, with two kids, she's finally comfortable in her own skin on stage and screen. In this book, with humour, grace and sincerity, she shares her journey to her happy ending.

I have been a fan of Steps since their first hit of 5,6,7,8 was released. There has been so much written over the years about the members of the group and one of the top topics of conversation has been about Claire Richards and her weight. Claire has hit back at the journalists and in her book reveals all about her life and her personal battle with her yo yo weight. 

I usually find myself dipping in and out of autobiographies alot, skipping to the best bits of the authors life. However, this book I read cover to cover in two days and enjoyed it all. 

It starts with the birth of Claire and talks about her childhood and her first attempt at the charts with the group TSD, before she was given a place in Steps. There are the highs and lows of band life, including their first hit and their concerts before the news that Boxing Day when Steps broke up, before we get to the present day and Steps reform and embark on a reunion tour.
Throughout all of this is the underlying thread of Claire's battle with her weight - being told she was too big by Step's management, before leaving the band and having the constant harassment in the media of her increasing weight.

I really enjoyed reading about Claire's life and think that this gave Claire the opportunity to put her side of the story - I watched the documentary on Sky 1 recently and think that this book managed to portray how Claire was really feeling and I wonder how much of this the other member of Steps knew about this before the book was released because I think a lot was not actually said (or shown as said) on the documentary. 

I also think that Claire's battle with her weight has been recorded really well in this book - although the media has given many column inches to this topic, Claire is a healthy mum of two, successful business woman, and has had to answer to many management teams, PR people etc for so many years while in the band - surely she is now able to relax a bit and enjoy life!!

Well done Claire for a frank and honest autobiography - I really enjoyed this book and think that all your critics should read it and weep!

Thank you to the publishers, Sidgewick and Jackson part of  Pan Macmillan, for sending me the book to review.

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