The famed recording artist recalls her past struggles with overeating and alcoholism.
In her latest memoir, Collins (Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music, 2011, etc.) treads some familiar territory covered in her previous books, referencing love affairs with Stephen Stills and others, her many musical triumphs, and the devastating impact of her son’s suicide. More urgently, the author focuses on her addictions, specifically her long-standing ones with excessive alcohol and food consumption. The chapters cover specific decades of her life up through the 1980s, as Collins highlights the trajectory of her accomplishments in relation to the course of her illness and extreme forms of indulgence: several bottles of vodka consumed each week, frequent episodes of bingeing and purging. Despite these issues, however, her career continued to soar. “While I was performing my anxieties and fears disappeared; the music gave me peace of mind, the melodies and lyrics gave me wings,” she writes. “And the pain of the increase in my drinking and the growing evidence that I had a problem with food did not seem to impact my career.” She alternates her recovery story with biographical sketches of renowned diet and nutrition authorities such as Robert Atkins, Andrew Weil, Jean Nidtech, and Adelle Davis along with notable historical figures such as English Romantic poet Lord Byron, who also confronted an extreme eating disorder. For the most part, Collins is a graceful writer. In a memoir that is equal parts confessional drama and inspirational self-help book, she shares an engaging tale and provides some meaningful information for readers who may be struggling with similar issues. However, the alternating structure often feels contrived and may lead readers to question whether she was seeking ways to stretch her own narrative or perhaps had two books in mind.
A compelling read for fans of Collins and/or those confronting their own addictive behavior.