She marries four times in search of the approval of a strong man, only to find weakness. She becomes a battered wife, and eventually manages to extricate herself. She also raises four children who become successful in their own right, and maybe that says more about Carole King than anything else.
She talks about the almost religious experience of hearing Aretha Franklin sing the title of this book. “Few people would consider it hyperbole to call Aretha’s voice one of the most expressive vocal instruments of the twentieth century. Hearing that instrument sing a song I had participated in creating touched me more than any recording of any song I had ever written.”
When I started A Natural Woman I read it on my Kindle, and I love the “notes and highlight” function. It’s so useful when you get down to writing the review. Well, I went to look at those notes and highlights when I started this and found that I have highlighted nearly half of the 496 pages. The book is that memorable and quote-worthy. King’s writing style is also engaging. It’s like sitting around the kitchen table listening to a friend tell the story of their life, and finding commonalities to your own. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll smile in both remembrance of an event and at the jokes life plays on us, great and small.
The story is told without bitterness and with very little regret. The story paints the life of one of the greatest songwriters of all time, but it also paint the journey that we all take. There is frustration, compassion, love and the joy of creating, the love of making an audience come alive. There is a spiritual journey and a cultural journey and a personal journey of growth. It is, indeed, a Tapestry woven by the last half of the twentieth century and the start of the twenty-first. She discovers, along the way that the key to success in writing and performing her music is to be authentically herself. She also discovered that that is the key to living life.
A Natural Woman is available April 10th and is a wonderful read.