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Click to Enlarge! “Shania Twain. The Biography.”
By Robin Eggar. London: Headline Book Publishing, 2001, pp. 308. Official book website:
Online chat transcript with author:
Book Review by FV. Scans of some of the many photos in the book by Cbspock.

Robin Eggar’s biography on Shania Twain is the latest work among many previous unauthorized biographies on “Timmins’ Sweetheart,” but this time around Shania Twain herself has helped the author make a list of people to interview from her past (including friends and previous co-workers). This very element has greatly contributed to the quality of the book. The British author has clearly accomplished much more than others’ previous attempts: he has delivered the most comprehensive and well-researched biography of Shania Twain to-date. After one year of research, interviews and three trips from the UK to Timmins, Ontario, Shania’s hometown, Robin Eggar has written twenty-two great chapters on the singer/songwriter, her life and career, making many Shania fans finally happy. The final result is the very first comprehensive look at Shania Twain, even before she became Shania, when Eilleen Twain was the young singer dreaming about a future in the music business.
As an excellent source of information on Shania’s childhood and teenage life, the book develops chronologically, giving the reader the feeling of living Eilleen’s early childhood struggles when her family was still living in Timmins. Whereas the first half of the biography focuses on Shania’s first experiences with music (the guitar lessons, the singing in public, the first band in Timmins), the second half examines the transformation of the girl from Ontario into the worldwide supestar Shania Twain. Well balanced and focused in every chapter, the reader has the impression to see the future Shania Twain growing professionally, thanks to her experience at the Deerhurst resort after the death of both parents in a tragic car accident. That episode has changed Eilleen’s life, personally and professionally, delaying her dream to become a recording artist. 
It is out of a very sad event in her life that the future Shania’s personal character emerges: strength in life, determination in her profession, and an enormous drive to be herself, personally and professionally. This last quality will be the determining factor of her success in the long term. A very clear view of where her career should go, Eilleen’s move to Nashville with her first recording contract, a disappointing first album, and a limited participation in writing her own songs for the professional debut did not stop her. The inner drive to sing her music and tell her stories brings Shania to find her path, along with personal happiness. It is the professional collaboration, joint with the personal union, with legendary rock producer Mutt Lange that changes everything forever. Shania Twain is born. 
The contract with Mercury marks an important moment in Shania’s career: it is in part thanks to Luke Lewis’ vision and interpretation of the music business evolution that Shania can indeed be herself. The head of Mercury Nashville gets his share of merit in having believed that “the artist should be able to choose, not the head-office hats (p. 159).” His contribution to Shania’s multi-platinum success with that record label is recognized by Shania herself, but it remains a bit overestimated, especially if Mutt Lange’s part of the equation is brought in. The development of the marketing campaign and promotion for Shania’s second album (The Woman in Me) as well as fr tohe record-breaking release “Come On Over”(COO) confirms that the artist and the producer themselves were the ones to deserve the BIG thumbs up. 
From the early chapters to the last view on the opening of the Shania Twain Centre in the summer of 2001, Eggar’s narration is always convincing and very detailed, proposing many events and facts previously unknown to even the most diehard fans (although a couple of them could have been left out because irrelevant for the story). His interpretation of Shania’s life and career, as well as of her musical choices, shows the author’s background in the music business as a manager, providing the reader with interesting tidbits of how things work. The book’s analysis is sharp and very thorough: it touches on the relevance of Shania’s broad fan base (“across generations,” p. 5); it describes aspects of Shania’s personality that are less known to the general music buyer (Shania’s craving for solitude, p. 31);  it emphasizes Shania Twain’s excellent career decisions (“I’ll get into country, and once I make it in there, I’ll move into pop,” p. 99). 
Many readers will also enjoy Eggar’s dry humor (“At no point can you see the tummy botton that was about to become so famous a comic later quipped it should have its own agent,” p. 216, with regards to Shania’s belly button issue in country music), and would actually be able to appreciate it even more if they get to meet him in person. 
Two more factors add value to the biography. The first element is the photos included in the book. A selection of pictures of Eilleen and Shania, many of them never seen before. The second plus goes to chapters 13 through 15. Although the book is a biography on Shania, fans of Mutt Lange’s hugely successful albums (his work as a producer/songwriter has been for clients such as AC/DC, Bryan Adams, BackstreetBoys, Britney Spears, Céline Dion, etc…) will also enjoy three chapters on the life and career of Shania’s husband and producer: a sort of mini-bio.
In the enormous amount of information and details, only those few “tough cookie” Shania fans may notice a couple of incorrect statements: the number of singles released out of COO (ten and not nine, p. 256); the number of Shania’s CMA awards (two and not one, p. 270); the original title of Shania’s later success “Any Man of Mine” (“This Man of Mine” and not “That Man of Mine,” p. 198); the date of Shania’s final concert for her last tour (December 5, 1999 and not January 16, 2000, p. 270). 
These minor details do not undermine at all the huge accomplishment of the biography. There is no doubt that as of 2002 Robin Eggar has written the real Shania Twain biography, and it will probably remain the real one for quite some time, unless Shania decides to write her own. The book is a MUST for all Shania fans: it is a treasure of information on the songwriter’s career and music, as well as a profound, thoughtful analysis of the "Shania who reveals herself in her songs. Not to mention that the paperback edition has just come out (April 2002)! Go Grab it HERE!
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