Review: Our Life on Ice by Torvill and Dean (5/5)

Tuesday 14 October 2014
When Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean collapsed to the ice at the climax of their routine to Bolero in the 1984 Winter Olympics, the judges could find no fault, awarding them 12 maximum scores of 6.0, while 24 million viewers watching at home in Britain simply looked on in amazement. Suddenly, we were all experts in figure skating, and we wanted to know more about the couple at the heart of it all.

Despite intense interest in them, Torvill & Dean kept their lives private, with many still wondering if the pair were really a couple. They turned professional and would eventually spend eight years working on ITV's Dancing on Ice, but still much of their story remained unknown.

Now, in Our Life on Ice, Torvill & Dean finally open up about the challenges they have faced and the pressures of life in the public eye: Jayne speaks candidly about her struggle with husband Phil to start a family, while Chris reveals the heartache in his family story. And of course, there is the skating, and the stories about what inspired their famous routines, and what the pair hope to achieve in the future as the approach their fortieth anniversary working together. It is the book their millions of fans have been waiting to read.

I was excited when I first heard about this book and couldn't wait to read it. As I wasn't even born when Torvill & Dean were at the height of their career, Dancing on Ice was the first time I heard about them. I absolutely loved the show, and was gutted when it ended earlier this year (2014). Before Dancing on Ice I wouldn't have thought of even watching ice skating, or dancing yet the show opened up for me and many people around the UK a whole new thing to watch, I'm yet to actually go on the ice myself though, maybe one day.

I have since watched countless videos of Torvill & Dean on the ice on YouTube. You could honestly watch them skate for hours and having witnessed it for myself live on the Dancing on Ice tour, it really is a thing of beauty. Jayne and Chris say that they wanted to turn ice dancing into an art form and they have definitely achieved that. They are just a joy to watch. In the book they say they have skated an estimated 250k miles and skated Bolero no less than 2000 times which is just staggering.

From birth to the present day Jayne and Chris take us through their whole lives. Having never read their previous book, or watched the Life Stories interview they did all the stories were new to me, that said die hard fans will love this book because as the duo say they now look at things differently than they did 20 years ago when they first released a book and of course they now have different opinions on things and new experiences to share. Chris's upbringing was somewhat troubled, and I actually found it crazy what it was that first got him into ice skating. Fate does work in mysterious ways and what happens here is a definite example of that.

It's a very heartwarming read at times with some lovely, touching stories. They are incredibly fortunate to have achieved what they have, yet it wasn't without its problems and obstacles yet they overcame them all. Their relationship is also great too. We are all very lucky if we can have that person that is there for us no matter what, that friend you can always turn to and Jayne and Chris have each other. It also shows that the argument of whether men and women can just be friends is idiotic, they can. They talk with such love and passion about the people that have helped them along the way and also very openly about the hurdles they had to overcome along the way too.

With paragraphs from just one of them or both together the book is written in a conversational way, almost like you are sitting talking to them rather than just reading a book. Coming across how they do on TV it's nice to read a book from two genuine people with a story to tell rather than just someone churning out a book for the sake of it. If the passion isn't there it just isn't worth reading. I enjoyed, and winced reading about some of the accidents they have had on the ice. And the controversy they have had, especially with the Russians. Perhaps Jackie Collins could write a book set in the ice skating world as there's plenty to write about!

There's also some touching and at times emotional stories about their marriages and Jayne's problems with having children which I had no idea about. I suppose the celebrity obsessed part of me wanted some juicy information or a bit of untold gossip but I guess the truth is it just isn't there. They really were just always friends, having more of a brother/sister relationship more than anything else and there was no great drama surrounding Chris' marriage breakdowns and how he got together with Karen. I was a bit disappointed with the Dancing on Ice chapter, it was very short and not very revelatory. I would've liked their thoughts on some of what went on, for example with the contestants or the judges but at the same time I appreciate this is their life story and that sort of stuff wouldn't be totally relevant.

Overall though it was a really enjoyable read, from two people who have remained grounded and down to Earth, they come across as friendly, humble and have told their story openly and honestly and when you read an autobiography that's all you can ask for.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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