Book Review: Susan Boyle: The woman I was born to be
The main problem with Susan Boyle's autobiography, The Woman I Was Born To Be, is that the first fortysomething years of SuBo's existence have been quite unremarkable. For almost all of her life, she's lived in the same house in Blackburn, West Lothian (alongside seven siblings in a Catholic family), and occasionally gone to karaoke at the local pub.
While reading this book, you can imagine the ghostwriter asking Boyle to describe the most significant moments in her pre-Britain's Got Talent life, only for an entire chapter (Craic) to be based upon a holiday to Ireland in 1967, and another (Uncle Michael) on when her uncle came to live with the Boyles. There are also far too many references to her teddy, Boo-boo, not to mention her cat, Pebbles.
However, what is unusual about SuBo, apart from her success, is the fact that she was born prematurely and, thus, suffered from perinatal asphyxia, resulting in slight brain damage.
In her early life she was bullied at school for her strangely formal way of speaking (she was, it seems, aping her hero Terry Wogan), while as a child she was, shockingly, prescribed Valium for hyperactivity.
Perhaps this is why her father warned off the only boyfriend she ever had, when she was 27 years old, with the words, "You're no ready for a boyfriend, hen!" As with many happenings in her life, she seems simply to accept events. But, then, it's difficult to pick Boyle's true voice out of a book that is packed with platitudes.
From 2009 onwards (ie halfway through the 328 pages) things get a bit more interesting. There is a visit to The Priory to recuperate, after being vilified by the media ("I felt as if I was having to fight for my survival as a person, literally to fight for my sanity"), and reflections on celebrity ("I've come to realise over the past year that the nature of celebrity is paradoxical. It brings pleasures as well as pressures").
However, despite these revelations and a decent dose of humour, which includes SuBo recounting the time she farted while appearing on Larry King Live, this book is strictly for the fans.