Title: Same Old Girl

Author: Sylvia Patterson

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

The Blurb

How does the big stuff in life truly change us?

In late 2019, Sylvia Patterson was a celebrated pop journalist, still merrily writing about the musical greats. But with the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease, a global pandemic and the collapse of her industry, life was about to take a drastic turn.

It was a misadventure that would teach her many things. The power of friendship, the shock of mortality and what happens when love is tested. How a walk in the park, a spontaneous dance and a TV hero can save your life. How your perspective can shift on everything, from work, family and music, to what truly makes you happy. And what really happens when your body, never mind your kitchen, falls apart.

The follow-up to the Costa-shortlisted I’m Not with the Band, this is Sylvia’s unflinching, poignant and gallows-funny odyssey through the mid-life trials we all face, as she tries to answer the big question: would it all change her, or would she stay that same old girl?

The Review

I have been envious of Sylvia Patterson for a while. She had the rock and roll life style that I could only dream of – standing at the side of the stage of music history and getting to write about it for a job. I was extremely jealous and I hoovered her book I’m Not With the Band a few years ago. When I saw that another book was going to be released I was eager to read it and wondered what part of Patterson’s life I would be envious of next. Well, I got my eye wiped.

Same Old Girl is not focused on music but is focused on Sylvia Patterson’s cancer diagnosis and how she dealt with it. Through her own inner strength combined with the love she got from family and friends and the tireless work of the NHS Sylvia Patterson documents this journey. And whilst I can honestly say that I am not jealous of this things she has been through but if I ever do find myself in that position I hope that I handle it with the grace and power that she did.

Same Old Girl is a brilliant memoir.

Same Old Girl by Sylvia Patterson is available now.

For more information regarding Sylvia Patterson (@SylvPatterson) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Little, Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.

Title: What It Feels Like For A Girl

Author: Paris Lees

Pages: 254 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Thirteen-year-old Byron needs to get away, and doesn’t care how. Sick of being beaten up by lads for “talkin’ like a poof” after school. Sick of dad – the weightlifting, womanising Gaz – and Mam, who pissed off to Turkey like Shirley Valentine. Sick of all the people in Hucknall who shuffle about like the living dead, going on about kitchens they’re too skint to do up and marriages they’re too scared to leave.

It’s a new millennium, Madonna’s ‘Music‘ is top of the charts and there’s a whole world to explore – and Byron’s happy to beg, steal and skank onto a rollercoaster ride of hedonism. Life explodes like a rush of ecstasy when Byron escapes into Nottingham’s kinetic underworld and discovers the East Midlands’ premier podium-dancer-cum-hellraiser, the mesmerising Lady Die. But when the comedown finally kicks in, Byron arrives at a shocking encounter that will change life forever.

Bold, poignant and riotously funny, What It Feels Like For a Girl is the unique, hotly-anticipated and addictively-readable debut from one of Britain’s most exciting young writers.

The Review

I first came across Paris Lees on Question Time a few years ago. She spoke so passionately about being trans and the lack of visibility for the trans community. She highlighted how she was the first trans person ever to appear on question time and how about trans people are talked at and about but never included in the conversation which crucially had such a negative impact on how the trans community are perceived by society. She was, quite frankly, amazing.

Her autobiography, What It Feels Like For a Girl is pretty damn good too. Paris Lees has led a pretty interesting life. In her no holds barred account of what it is like to grow up in Nottingham whilst dealing with her sexuality and becoming the person she was born to be you really are taken on a massive emotional journey.

Through all the terrible things that Paris Lees has to go through you have no doubt that she will survive. She is a survivor. A fighter. And to be perfectly honest, after I finished the book I just wanted to be her friend. I feel that there is much more of this story to tell and I really hope that Lees does a follow up because besides leading such a fascinating life she also writes incredibly well.

What It Feels Like for a Girl is one that I would happily reread several times over.

What It Feels Like For a Girl by Paris Lees is available now.

For more information regarding Paris Lees (@parislees) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: Gay Bar

Author: Jeremy Atherton Lin

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Granta Books

The Blurb

From leather parties in the Castro to Gay Liberation Front touch-ins; from disco at Studio One to dark rooms in Vauxhall railway arches, the gay bar has long been a place of joy, solidarity and sexual expression. But around the world, gay bars are closing. In the wake of this cultural demolition, Jeremy Atherton Lin rediscovers the party boys and renegades who lived and loved in these spaces.

Gay Bar is a sparkling, richly individual history of enclaves in London, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is also the story of the author’s own experiences as a mixed-race gay man, and the transatlantic romance that began one restless night in Soho. Expansive, vivacious, curious, celebratory, Gay Bar asks: where shall we go tonight?

The Review

Jeremy Atherton Lin’s book Gay Bar is a great amalgamation of bothe memoir and history book. The book centres on not only gay bars but the community he finds or at times doesn’t find in them. With Atherton Lin we travel across the western world to look at the gay bars and what they mean to people. How they became a safe haven for the exploration of sexuality, something that has only been legal for just over half a century.

I did feel that sometimes Jeremy Atherton Lin kept you at arms length in the memoir part of Gay Bar and therefore I did find the history sections much more engaging. However, it is an interesting read but not for the faint hearted. If you are offended by reading about sex in its many forms then this may not be the read for you.

Gay Bar by Jeremy Atherton Lin is available now.

For more information regarding Granta Books (@GrantaBooks) please visit www.granta.com.

Title: My Name is Not Wigs…Or the Day I Thought Pavarotti was a Stage Hand

Author: Angela Cobbin

Pages: 224 Pages

Publisher: Brown Dog Books

The Blurb

An enthralling journey through time, fashion and theatreland: from hairdressing student in the early 1960s to theatrical wig creator for the biggest shows of our time over five decades. My Name Is Not Wigs is the ultimate read for fans of witty behind-the-curtains memoirs, especially those with a penchant for the bright lights of stage and screen: tears and accolades aplenty!

Angela’s parents wanted a different life for their daughter—after an “unpredictable lifestyle” as dancers and performers themselves—encouraging a career in hairdressing instead of the ‘business of show’. But the creative gene cannot be quelled, and Angela soon became intrigued by the art of wig-making and the history of hairstyling. After swapping scissors for antiques, fate played its part, when Angela discovered a dusty, old book of wigs and hairstyles from the 18th century. After years of uncertainty, she was certain of her purpose in life. Angela secured a job in a London theatre, taking her on a new and exciting path to becoming the go-to wig designer in theatreland and Broadway; creating wigs for Spitting Image, Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera, The Graduate, Witches of Eastwick, Jesus Christ Superstar, La Boheme and Mary Poppins to name a few; at institutions such as Madame Tussauds in London and Amsterdam, The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and The Royal National Theatre on more than 100 shows; touring the world; and working alongside many of the biggest names in acting including Joan Collins, Celia Imrie, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen.

The Review

The world of theatre is fascinating but the focus always tends to be on the actors, the writers, the composers or the directors. Very little light is shone on those that really make a show work. Those who work behind the scenes. In her fascinating memoir My Name is Not Wigs, Angela Cobbin reveals the ins and outs of the wig department in some of our best loved shows.

Angela’s autobiography takes you from her humble beginnings of training in a hair salon to becoming a celebrated and sought after wig artist across the world and media platforms. Her diligence and dedication to her craft leap off every page.

The lovely thing about My Name is Not Wigs is that it doesn’t feel too heavy on the craft. Whilst we can tell Angela Cobbin is good at what she does and she does bring in technical detail into her narrative we are not bogged down with information that we can’t understand. It is actually quite the opposite. We are told in a way that does make the world od wig-making seem understandable.

However, my favourite thing about My Name is Not Wigs was that it felt conversational. It felt like I had sat down with a friend I hadn’t seen for a while and was enjoying a catch up with her. Angela Cobbin’s writing makes you feel like you are privy to her world because you already have an established relationship. It really made My Name is Not Wigs an enjoyable read.

My Name is Not Wigs…Or the Day I Thought Pavarotti was a Stage Hand by Angela Cobbin is available now.

For more information regarding Angela Cobbin (@angela_cobbin) please visit her Twitter page.

Title: Consent

Author: Vanessa Springora

Pages: 216 Pages

Publisher: 4th Estate

The Blurb

The devastating and powerful memoir from a French publisher who was abused by a famous writer from the age of thirteen

‘A gut-punch of a memoir with prose that cuts like a knife’ Kate Elizabeth Russell, author of My Dark Vanessa

Thirty years ago, Vanessa Springora was the teenage muse of one of France’s most celebrated writers, a footnote in the narrative of an influential man. At the end of 2019, as women around the world began to speak out, Springora, now in her forties and the director of one of France’s leading publishing houses, decided to reclaim her own story.

Consent is the story of her stolen adolescence. Devastating in its honesty, Springora’s painstaking memoir lays bare the cultural attitudes and circumstances that made it possible for a thirteen-year-old girl to become involved with a fifty-year-old man.

Drawing parallels between children’s fairy tales, French history and the author’s personal life, Consent offers intimate insights into the meaning of love and consent, the toll of trauma and the power of healing in women’s lives.

The Review

Consent by Vanessa Springora is a memoir about her time as a real-life Lolita. Springora describes her life and her relationship with a celebrated writer in France and how as she has grown up she has realised that their relationship was not one based on mutual affection but one that was manipulated by an older man taking advantage of a younger girl. She looks at the power dynamics and how her innocence was lost to this. Springora also looks at the changing attitudes of the time and how something that happened to her wouldn’t be seen as socially acceptable as it was perceived at the time (not completely accepted but far more so than in today’s society).

Consent is part memoir part social commentary about relationships, society and power. Equally, it is about claiming back your own existence and taking your power back. It is only a short book but it is a powerful one.

Consent by Vanessa Springora is available now.

For more information regarding Vanessa Springora (@VSpringora) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding 4th Estate (@4thEstateBooks) please visit www.4thestate.co.uk.