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Forrester, Maureen with Marci McDonald.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1986. 326pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-7710-3227-7. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Anne Locatelli

Volume 15 Number 2
1987 March

This is an important book that has all the ingredients for becoming a best seller. Maureen Forrester, Canada's famous contralto, needs no introduction; her superb voice has been applauded in theatres, concert halls, opera houses, and even night clubs the world over. In her action-packed autobiographical memoir, Forrester tells her life story with the help of the talented Canadian reporter, Marci MacDonald.

From her humble beginnings in Montreal, Forrester moved up to become an international celebrity who shares the stage with the greatest singers of our time, under the direction of the greatest conductors. Her exceptional talent, her sheer determination and perseverance, combined with some good luck, made it all possible. With great enthusiasm she tells about her exciting life, full of travel, glamour, and important people. Without reticence she tells of how at times her career came in the way of her personal life. Details of her passionate love affair with violinist Eugene Kash, the birth of their first child, followed by their marriage and her conversion to Judaism, are disclosed openly and frankly.

How Forrester managed her menage of five children, a husband, a big house, and her singing career is in itself a wonder to read about. Her light-hearted and good-natured personality was a great help: she seems to have the gift of seeing the funny side of people and situations and of being able to laugh, even at herself. When, after many years of singing serious, classical roles, she discovered her talent for playing lighter characters, a new phase of her career began.

Rich in hilarious anecdotes pertaining to artists and to many of the other personalities Forrester encountered in her travels, this memoir is both entertaining and informative. An index would have made this book even more valuable for the music lover wanting to relocate some reference point in a hurry. Very readable, attractively presented, with a whole section of black-and-white photo reproductions, Out of Character is sure to be a winner. Although not a must for a high school collection, it would definitely be a valuable addition to be enjoyed by both staff and senior students.

Anne Locatelli, Elliot Lake 5.5., Elliot Lake, Ont.
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