Top critical review
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A detailed and honest account of a serious illness
on 26 May 2011
I come to this book as a confirmed Edwyn Collins fan. So far as I know, I own everything he has ever released, from the proto-indie soul of the Postcard years, through to the funk & eclecticism of Orange Juice's final flourish, and then onwards and upwards into the solo years, including the unexpected return to the upper echelons of the charts with `A Girl Like You'.
In December 2010 I witnessed a wonderful set from Edwyn at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival that was very emotional for me. I was smiling, singing, dancing and cheering, all with tears in my eyes. To cap it all, on that day Teenage Fanclub were Edwyn's backing band. Needless to say, I have meant to read this book for some time.
This book provides fascinating insights into the UK National Health Service (the stuff the NHS does well and not so well); how Edwyn recovered from his stroke; Edwyn's post-stroke therapy; the love of a wife and mother for her family; and, ultimately, the joy of being alive and Edwyn's determination to bounce back from a devastating illness.
Grace Maxwell is very eloquent, and I come away from this book feeling that I know more about her, in particular her formidable and engaging personality. What is very clear is just how much she loves Edwyn and how she was, and continues to be, totally committed to their life together. Edwyn and Grace are also surrounded by an amazing group of friends and family who enrich this book.
I do wonder how much I would have enjoyed what is, in essence, a detailed and honest account of the effects of a serious illness on the patient and his loved ones, if that patient were not Edwyn Collins. My sense is that I would still have found it interesting, moving and worth reading. That said, as an Edwyn fan, I would also have liked more about life before Edwyn's stroke. There are a few chapters that cover this area but I would love to read more. This is a bit unfair as it is not the purpose of this particular book; still perhaps Grace Maxwell might consider another book that covered the pre-stroke years in more detail?
I am so pleased that this book has such an uplifting ending. Edwyn and his family endured a dreadful ordeal and "The Restoration Of Edwyn Collins" is nothing short of miraculous. Through a combination of Edwyn's determination, the support of his family, especially Grace, and the help of countless specialists, Edwyn is back performing, writing, drawing and working. I recommend this book for fans and non-fans alike, and hope one day to be reviewing a second biography that covers the pre-stroke years. What do you say Grace?