top of page
  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Amy Winehouse: In Her Words

Twelve years after her untimely death at 27, Amy Winehouse remains an enigmatic and mythologized figure in popular culture. The beehived retro-glam diva with the big voice, troubled persona, and tragically short career left behind unanswered questions about both her creative genius and personal demons.

A new book, 'Amy Winehouse: In Her Words, offers a peek into the inner world of this mercurial jazz chanteuse through a scrapbook of personal artefacts curated by her parents. Spanning candid childhood photos, handwritten song lyrics, diary musings, and other ephemera from Winehouse's North London upbringing, this collection aims to provide touching glimpses into the playful, creative spirit behind the tabloid drama.

The book leans heavily on material from Winehouse's youth, before she penned era-defining albums like 'Back to Black' that sealed her icon status. We get school reports, silly doodles, effusive crush journal entries - the type of artefacts that likely clutter countless childhood memory boxes. These remnants chart Winehouse's early wit and charm, demonstrating her flair for language and budding songcraft. Photos of a cheeky, fresh-faced young Amy capture her irreverent humour and lust for life. For devoted fans, these artefacts may offer poignant resonances that hint at the icons she would become.

Yet the glimpses often feel all too fleeting. There is a palpable absence of deeper insight into Winehouse's creative process, personal relationships, and inner struggles during her adulthood. The book ends abruptly right before she achieves global fame, leaving us hungry for more substance and context from her mature years. While charming, poring over juvenilia can only get us so far in understanding the complexity of this artist. We're left wishing for Winehouse's candid perspectives on her art and demons or at least a robust chronology that helps connect the dots.

As a homage by grieving parents, Amy Winehouse: In Her Words has an inherent sweetness. All proceeds benefit the Amy Winehouse Foundation, set up by her family to aid addiction recovery and prevent the loss of other creative souls. But as a portrait of an elusive artist, the book has substantial gaps. There is a sense that deeper secrets and meanings have been omitted. We cannot help but wonder how Winehouse herself would feel about such personal relics being aired to the public, though, of course, she is unable to consent.

For Winehouse's most ardent admirers, Amy Winehouse: In Her Words may offer flickers of insight that affirm her enduring cultural impact. Yet most readers will likely crave more. The Amy that comes through is witty and innocent but untested by life. One closes the book wishing for the wisdom and candour of the woman, not just the echoes of the precocious girl she once was. As a posthumous glimpse into a complex creative spirit, this scrapbook ultimately leaves us longing for a more profound Amy Winehouse: In Her Words.

Reviewer: Chris Reed



bottom of page