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Wayward Daughter: An Official Biography of Eliza Carthy [Paperback]

Mark Radcliffe , Sophie Parkes
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 May 2012
Eliza Carthy is the daughter of Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, so it was, perhaps, inevitable that she would follow the family trade and become a folk musician. After 21 years in the music business, it seems apt to chronicle the first part of an eventful life. In addition to extensive interviews with Eliza herself, the book contains interviews with her parents and other family members and also many of the people Eliza has worked with, including Billy Bragg, comedian Stewart Lee, Saul Rose, Nancy Kerr and more. Also included, is an extensive selection of photographs from Eliza's personal collection. The Kindle version contains a new exclusive chapter bringing Eliza's story right up to 2013.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Soundcheck Books (1 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956642071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956642073
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 266,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Crucially, the book manages to do justice to the woman herself: earthy, forthright and eminently entertaining.' - fRoots

'A seriously well-researched book... well-edited with...an impressive series of notes at the back...and a startlingly frank series of quotes from Eliza.' - --Living Traditions

'An affectionate, readable biography of a singer and musician who is set to achieve much more.' - English Dance & Song magazine

'Is Wayward Daughter a good biography? Indeed it is. Is it recommended reading? Without a doubt. What are you waiting for? Buy it now.' - Tim Carroll, --Folkwords

About the Author

Sophie Parkes is a young talented musician. No slouch on the violin herself, she has been writing for Fiddle On magazine since she was 15. She has her own band Air Cav, who are recording, and runs For Folk's Sake, a folk club in Manchester. She is resigned to spending the rest of her life there as her Manchester City mad boyfriend, who is also in her band, works for the football club in charge of their social media.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential read for any music fan 7 Jun 2012
An impulse buy for holiday reading; I'm a music obsessive and love reading any music biographies and autobiographies. I'm certainly not a big fan of folk or the Waterson/Carthys, though I've always been aware of their importance and quite liked the idea that the first family of English folk had this punk looking daughter. From the off, though, this is gripping as a good novel; within the first few pages I'd felt tears prick in my eyes at a moment of understanding between Martin Carthy and his as yet unborn daughter (you'll just have to read it; I believe him), laughed along with some of the author's friendly manner and could even picture the landscape in which the family grew up.

For a biographer, knowledge of your subject is one thing; gaining the trust of her and all her friends and family quite another. The intimacy of the interviews which form the backbone of this book is wonderful; you can tell they resulted from hours of amiable chat over tea or beer, as opposed to the "knock on door with a Dictaphone and sit uncomfortably for two hours then leave" style you sometimes get with more formal biographies. Even these things, however, do not automatically make for a great book: I've read plenty of third party biogs or ghostwritten memoirs where nothing is hidden, and some of them are still pretty dull as they plod along.

This is where Sophie Parkes excels: her writing never plods along, it dances down the streets of Eliza's wonderful-sounding childhood, it dips into the lives of her closest friends and laughs along with the now fully grown-up mother-of-two who still swears like a docker. She avoids this-happened-then-this-happened-then-etc linearity - let's face it, in real life where do you ever hear anyone tell a sequentially linear story outside of a police interview room?
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a beard or sandal in sight 22 Jun 2012
At last! A biography of a musician that's well written, interesting and not just a list of tracks and gigs. The author is obviously a fan of Eliza Carthy, she makes no secret of that but the book is definitely not a hagiography either. Eliza comes across as a musician who is aware of the history of the genre she is involved in but is not afraid to make her mark and create work that will, hopefully in time,become an important addition to folk music repertoire.
I really enjoyed how Sophie Parkes personalizes the book - if you are a fan it's hard to be objective but she examines the state of folk music today and how it can be appropriated by unlikely groups of people; the BNP for example.
The writer brings out the eccentricity of the Waterson- Carthy clan but also shows how thoughtful Eliza is about her music and the ever present albatross of heritage which must always be at the back of her mind.
The Afterword is given over to Eliza fans - an innovative idea of the author's and one which should be replicated in other books,I think.
I can't wait for Sophie's next book!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written & perfectly presented 14 Jun 2012
I was lucky enough to be at the launch of this book in Sheffield and have to say, the book more than delivered on the night itself!
Although a self confessed fan, the author does not fall into the trap of making this a fawning biography, instead, using interviews with the artist and her family and collaborators to pull together the strands of a very diverse and interesting artist who is not easily placed in one genre or another.
From her families move to Robin Hoods Bay, through her youth and into Motherhood, this is a revealing and well written biography that will no doubt be added to as her career continues and her fame grows outside of the "folk" scene.
I would heartily recommend this book, not just to those who are fans of traditional "English" music, but fans of any music, as Eliza is as happy messing with dance beats as her fiddle!
I really enjoyed this and I hope Sophie goes on to write more books, as she has dealt with this biography in a very skilled manner for a first book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting 7 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As lifelong devotee of Martin Carthy ,Norma Waterson and the brilliant Eliza I was very interested in her background and career - not sure I learnt much that was new but I enjoyed the book and interviews .
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful, Disjointed and Disappointing 4 Nov 2012
This is a truly dreadful, disjointed and disappointing book. The account of Eliza's life (thus far) jumps about and several observations are repeated to the point of tedium. I am relatively familiar with her career and family history (as much as any fan of British folk music is) and still found some of the book an absolute chore to plough through. It is also as peculiar for what it omits as much as it repeats.
The fact that Eliza chose mid-career to undertake study toward a degree is granted just one sentence mid ramble. So, did university and mixing with those outside the folk scene influence Eliza at all? We are not told. How did the passing of one of Eliza's close relatives, early influences and highly regarded performers of English folk (her auntie Lal) impact her? Again we are not told. This sad and untimely passing barely gets a mention. More space is given by the author to how she struggled with public transport to get to see Eliza playing in a pub session and supporting some folk dancers, and the fact that the author also plays in a band. Do you know what, I'm sure that Ms Parkes is a very nice human being, and that her travel woes and musical prowess are of interest in another forum, but not in a biography of someone else. I for one am not interested.
We learn from the author bio at the end of the book (complete with a photo of Ms Parkes holding a fiddle!) that she is more used to writing short reviews in various publications. This fact certainly shows in this biography as she is totally unable to sustain a narrative past 2000 words. I also could have done without the 20 plus pages of `fan interviews' at the end. Again I bought this book to learn about its subject, not an author who couldn't resist talking about herself or what some random collection of fans think of her. Best avoided.
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