From The Archive: All Of Me by Claire Richards (5/5)

Friday 23 May 2014

Read and reviewed February 2013

Claire Richards, young, fit and with a figure to die for, reached the dizzying heights of fame in the hit band Steps when she was only twenty. When she left, and Steps split shortly after, the world was shocked by the news. Now, writing with incredible honesty, Claire tells her story, from her teenage music career to her big break with Steps. She reveals that while in the band she faced harsh pressure to stay thin, and starved herself for years. Feeling broken by the experience, she finally left and sank into a pit of depression, gaining huge amounts of weight and losing all self-esteem. Believing her career was over, she also had to cope with a painful split from her Steps dancer husband. Thankfully finding love with her now husband, Reece, got her back on track. He didn't care about her size; he just wanted Claire. And, after seeing her weight go up and down for years, Claire has refused to diet any more. Happily married, with two kids, she's finally comfortable in her own skin on stage and screen. In this book, with humour, grace and sincerity, she shares her journey to her happy ending.

I loved this book. I only started reading it a few hours ago but I couldn't put it down. I have read a lot of autobiographies over the years and I always finish them thinking that that particular biography was one of my favourites but this one definitely is.

I was a huge Steps fan when I was younger (I still am if I'm honest). I had the tapes and the CDs every Christmas. However I was only 7 or 8 when the first single was released and so for me, Steps were just a pop band who sang songs that I loved. I had no idea what they were like as people, what was happening in the media or anything like that. What kid cares about that? It's not like today where a musicians life is more important to their fans than the music, perhaps it was for older fans, but for me as a kid I just loved their music and that was it.

So for that reason a lot of the stories in this book were completely new to me, however for older fans and for fans that followed Steps in the media all those years ago, these stories probably won't be all that new except that they are told from Claire's perspective in what I think is a very honest way. The book was a joy to read, funny in places and sad in others I really enjoyed it. Until the Steps documentary last year I had no idea about rivalries, arguments etc so I really enjoyed reading about it and was quite shocked at what went on.

As a child my only memory about hearing/reading about Steps in the media was when they split up and it is a vivid memory because I got the greatest hits album Gold for Christmas and then woke up the following day to find out that they had split up and I, like thousands of people across the UK, was devastated. All I remember is hearing people saying how they had released the CD for money over Christmas before telling the fans that they had split up however after reading this book I know that is not the case.

It was also an eyeopener reading about Claire's battle with weight. I have had and continue to have problems with weight and it's a shame that so many people place so much emphasis on it. The story about the Steps fans not recongising her was awful because she still looks like 'Claire from Steps' whether she's thin or not. Unfortunately nothing seems to have changed and the media's obsession with weight just seems to get worse not better.

Overall this was a fantastic read and one that every Steps or Clarie fan should definitely read. As I said older fans may not discover anything new here but it is a very honest read and I hate it when people give books like this 1 or 2 stars, Claire has literally opened her heart up and talked about some difficult memories to write this book. It isn't like other autobiographies where the author may write it to cash in it is simply just an honest read and it must have been very therapeutic for her to get it all out in the open.



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