The Frog Princess by Angie Beasley

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The Frog Princess by Angie Beasley

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Category: Autobiography
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Trish Simpson-Davis
Reviewed by Trish Simpson-Davis
Summary: Life story of gutsy Angie Beasley who has climbed to the top of beauty pageant management, despite a humble start.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 290 Date: September 2011
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0-718-15831-6

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I expected a tabloid expose of the beauty queen industry, or a spirited defence against feminist ethical attacks of the past few years from one of its successful 'victims'. Best of all, I enjoy an ordinary person telling an authentic emotional tale, whatever their circumstances or personal history. Sadly I'm afraid that this book fell rather short on these attractions. At first I felt that Angie Beasley deserved a lot more editorial help in developing her manuscript. Then I realised that the story was ghost written, which explains the lack of authentic voice fairly neatly.

She was born in Grimsby when it was still a raw Northern fishing port. In her terraced back-to-back, her father's belt still ruled supreme. I never quite worked out how and when Angie made the transition from a fearful early relationship with her father to a more equal adult one, or the real significance of his eventual disappearance. Real life is necessarily messy and disjointed, and I suppose it's difficult to know what, of an incomplete understanding, to explore in public.

After a young sibling's death, her mother joined the Jehovah's Witnesses, so that the family stuck out ever after as 'different'. Subsequently, Angie felt disempowered by the absence of Christmas and birthday celebrations from her life and being unable to participate in the religious routines of her schoolmates. It only made her more determined to enjoy her social life and the opposite sex in later life! She clearly relished good times and good friends as she started to make her name as a model and beauty queen.

The undercurrents of abuse resurfaced in her relationship with Paul, who was a popular and sociable work associate. Having overwhelmed her with apparent devotion, Paul then morphed into a physically abusive partner who stripped her of her self-esteem and money. What is striking about this part of the story is how reluctant friends and family were to accept what was going on. Angie has tried to help other people in a similar situation over the years. Opening up in public about one's own experience educates the rest of us to recognise the signs and characteristic personality of an abuser.

Angie is over-modest about her attractiveness and determination to make something of her life. From poverty in Grimsby, she is now in her tenth year as director of the Miss England pageant. I felt huge admiration for her personal and business achievements, especially with such tremendous odds stacked against her. It's just that in a book, I think you need to be prepared to bare all your emotions in public, and that's another story.

On the biographical tack, I'd recommend Bipolar Parent by Anna Burley and Run, Mummy, Run by Cathy Glass. Fictionally speaking, for teens A Good Clean Edge by Vincent Caldey and Picture Perfect by Jodie Picoult deal with these difficult themes.

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