Book feature: FROM THIS MOMENT ON
When everything goes without a hitch, where’s the challenge, the opportunity to find out what you’re made of? — Shania Twain
Talk about reinvention. Music legend Shania Twain’s raw and brutally honest memoir details how she overcame the abject poverty and family abuse of her childhood to become an international superstar – and how now, at age 45, she’s once again starting anew.
While many of her fans may be aware — at least in a general sense — of Shania’s impoverished background and her dramatic rise to fame and fortune, in her autobiography From This Moment On she seemingly spares few details of the hardships she faced along the way.
Born in rural Ontario, Shania (known then as Eilleen) was one of five children. And, as she puts it, “There were plenty of times the Twain family didn’t have enough too eat, lacked warm clothes in the frigid Northern Ontario winters, and lived in a cramped, rented apartment or house with no heat.”
Shania openly describes the painful ordeals of her childhood. Days when there was no food for her lunch, and humiliated, she would conceal her hunger (and lack of food) from school friends and teachers. Long, bitterly cold Canadian winters where she fended off frostbite by wrapping her feet in plastic bread bags since her family couldn’t afford proper boots. Lifting up the soiled carpet in her bedroom only to find it was infested with maggots.
As a teen, she endured sexual abuse from her father, and helped her mother, who suffered from clinical depression, escape to a shelter in Toronto to put an end to domestic violence.
And the challenges of her young life didn’t end there. At the age of 22, both of her parents were killed in a car accident, leaving her to support her younger siblings.
It is a testimony to her courage and steely determination that — despite her loss, grief and unending struggle to make ends meet — she persevered in following a professional musical career, while at the same time doing what she needed to survive, even if it meant living in a rented cabin in the backwoods with no locks on the doors and no running water.
It was while she was working as a cabaret-show performer at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario that she got her first real professional break and landed a record deal. Soon after, she moved to Nashville where she enjoyed a dramatic rise to stardom, eventually selling over 75 million albums worldwide and winning five Grammy Awards.
Her phenomenal success, however, did not shelter her from yet more heartbreak. She writes, “No matter who we are, human suffering does not discriminate.” After 14 years of marriage to South African producer and songwriting partner Mutt Lange, Shania’s marriage fell apart when her husband had an affair with her good friend, Marie-Anne. (Shania and Mutt’s son, Eja, was a playmate with Marie-Anne’s daughter.)
Again, Shania details her anger and grief during this time, including a pleading letter she sent to Marie-Anne, asking her to leave her husband and family alone. The stress, sadness and anxiety from the double betrayal is thought to have contributed to a condition called dysphonia, which has caused Shania — at least temporarily — to lose her singing voice.
Yet, Shania’s strong spirit again shines through. Her whole life has been about reinvention, after all. She remains hopeful that after treatment she’ll recover her voice and begin a new phase of her career. And her heart seems to have healed as well, as witnessed by her recent marriage to Fred Thiebaud (who by a strange twist, also happens to be the ex-husband of Marie-Anne).
Want to read it for yourself? We are giving away five copies of the memoir here.
Watch a clip of Shania performing her hit song From This Moment On:
Ready for more? Here’s a video of Shania’s hit Man! I Feel Like A Woman: