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Whatever It Takes: A Story of Family Survival - Elaine Lordan

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Genre: Biography / Author: Elaine Lordan / Hardcover / 320 Pages / Book is published 2007-05-03 by Ebury Press

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    2 Reviews
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      17.10.2010 09:22
      Very helpful




      Having recently read Elaine Lordan's autobiography, I can honestly say it is one of the most raw, gritty and heartfelt books I have ever read. It is simply breathtaking, as Elaine gives honest and hearty accounts of her rollercoaster life.

      Elaine Lordan is best known as the character Lyn Slater in Eastenders. She is no longer in the soap. But had a good number of years in the role of the sensible, put apon slater sister. I liked her character in the soap as I could identify with her. She was working class with a heart of gold who was very protective over her family.

      I remember there was a time when Elaine Lordan was always in the tabloids. Stories of her being drunk and falling out of clubs and basically painting Lordan in an unfavourable light. Therefore, I was so compelled to read her book. In order to try to understand what drove this brilliant actress to self destruction. What I read most certainly explained this in bucketloads.

      From the very first page, I was into this book. It really had that magic formula of wit, grit and truth that made me want to turn the pages. It was brutally honest from the outset. I was so intrested to read about Elaine's childhood and how this young girl from the east end became an actress. I loved her story, simply because she has an inspiring determination. I got the message that she is one tough cookie who is willing to work hard and strive to meet her ambitions.

      Elaine talks openly about her time on Eastenders. I enjoyed this section of the book as it offered a great insight into behind the scenes life on one of the nations biggest soaps. Again Lordan is both honest and sometimes witty in describing her working relationships and friendships with other members of the cast.

      The book moves seamlessly along, charting her meeting and falling in love with her partner. Again this makes for compelling reading. She has a no nonsense way of writing which I find so refreshing. It is not flowery and pretty. But in my opinion it was like listening to an old friend. I felt this really helped me to gain an understanding of Elaine and create a real fondness for her.

      What pulled me in, spun my head and made my heart bleed before spitting me out again as a wreck, was the chapters in which Elaine recalls the death of her mum. Her mum comitted suicide by jumping under a train and I could feel my heart beating as I read about the night she discovered that her mum had died.

      Lordan also gives the most heartwrenching and emotional account of her beautiful baby boy who was born with an illness and who only lived for a year. Her description of the darkness that engulfed her when her baby died, reaches through the pages and pulls hard on the readers heartstrings.

      Although the book has very dark chapters. It also left me feeling inspired by this wonderful woman who despite such tragic events. Has picked herself up and is fighting back. I found that I gained a true admiration for this actress. It also taught me not to believe everything you read in the tabloids and not to be so judgemental.

      This book will not have you laughing out loud. Quite the opposite, I let out quite a few sobs when reading. But what it will offer is a brutally honest, somewhat traumatic journey through this young woman's life. I seriously felt as though I was holding my breath the whole way through. I could not put this book down and read it in an evening. I was so touched by her story which is certainly not glitz and glamour but true life and heart ache. Simply brilliant.

      This book is available in both hard and paper back. I borrowed my copy from the library. This book is on sale on Amazon and all other good book retailers.


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      14.09.2007 12:06
      Very helpful



      Ex-EastEnders star talks about her difficult life

      I read Elaine Lordan’s autobiography Whatever It Takes after finishing Patsy Palmer’s, so I couldn’t help but compare them. Two actresses, both formerly in EastEnders, both Londoners – in fact, both coming from Anna Scher’s theatre school.

      Yet, while I found Patsy’s book to be a typical cash in, with a strong dollop of drug addiction boredom thrown in, Elaine’s was completely different. Even if you are not the slightest bit interested in autobiographies, EastEnders or Elaine herself, this book is really worth reading - and hopefully I’ll explain why in this review.

      Whatever It Takes is quite different to other autobiographies in general. You get some idea of this by looking at the cover. Elaine looks normal in the photos, not all dolled up to the nines with an inch of slap on, just a normal woman wearing jeans. Under the book’s title, it says ‘A Story of Family Survival’ and this is very true.

      While many in this genre are simply love-ins between the reader and the subject, Whatever It Takes is not the same. We are not told how wonderful Elaine is, how amazingly rich and successful, how beautiful and glamorous. Elaine comes across as an ordinary woman and this makes the book very easy to relate to.

      She doesn’t do kiss-and-tell exposés nor does she name-drop celebs throughout. I found this refreshing, especially as she refers to her ex-boyfriends as ‘another actor’ or similar and reveals very little about these times in her life, keeping a dignified silence. Instead of feeling cheated out of juicy gossip, instead I found this very respectful and it didn’t detract from her life story in the slightest.

      Two of her best friends are actresses Kathy Burke and Tilly Vosburgh, who she has known for years, but she mentions them in such a friendly way, the fact they are well-known themselves is of secondary importance. Elaine, Kathy and Tilly all come across as down-to-earth, regular people who have bad habits, get drunk, swear and make mistakes. They don’t seem at all starry or luvvie.

      I think this is the key to the success of this book for me. Certainly in the second half, you forget it is a ‘celebrity autobiography’ and it becomes a very warm, moving tribute written by a woman. While Elaine Lordan might be best remembered as Lynne Slater from EastEnders, her own life has had far more heartache than her screen life had.

      While not wishing to give too much away - as I do urge everyone to read this themselves - Elaine’s mother committed suicide and not long after, Elaine’s baby son died, after a year-long battle with health problems. She gives this as her main reason for writing the book and I can understand that completely. When my Nanna died earlier this year, I wrote about her and how I felt and it really did help the grieving process.

      I think Elaine’s book will be helpful for anyone suffering from bereavement, particularly if the circumstances are at all similar. If you have an ill baby though, you may wish to wait a while before reading Whatever It Takes. I found it upsetting and have luckily never had to deal with a seriously ill baby in intensive care.

      Elaine doesn’t write in flowery, pretty sentences. It is very accessible, very easy to read and very touching. She never plays the ‘poor me’ card too. She just gets on, copes as best as she can and tells it as it is. While I felt desperately sorry for her and all she has been through, the book is much more of a tribute to her mother and her son, than any kind of cheap “better write this while the GBP still know who I am!”

      Elaine’s life story is in the book too, of course. We find out how she became interested in acting, her first stage role and the TV work she did, including Tucker’s Luck, which I loved and then into EastEnders. She talks about her childhood, her family and how she got together with her husband – who comes across as brilliant, a real support to her.

      She also answers some of the things the tabloids have written about her. I think she must be one of the most bullied celebrities in this country! I felt so angry on her behalf, as the press intrusion into her life has been awful. Photos of her baby in intensive care were stolen from the hospital. Photos were taken of Elaine at her mother’s funeral. She was chased by paparazzi in a car when she was heavily pregnant and when she refused to life her head up to be photographed, they called her awful names. It really made me feel ashamed of the British press!

      It also gave me a different slant on Elaine’s time in the jungle. I remember watching her in I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! and thinking she was weak, not being able to cope with everything that came with the reality show.

      However, reading Whatever It Takes puts that in context. It wasn’t long after her mother’s death and her son was just about stable, so she chose to do it to get the money to provide for her son’s future. She hadn’t worked for almost a year, as her son needed constant care. It was a brave decision to agree and I admire her for it and completely understand why she collapsed and had to withdraw early.

      I’ve never been a huge fan of Elaine Lordan, the actress. I enjoyed watching the Slater sisters in Albert Square, but otherwise I rarely thought of her. But after reading her book, I now feel I know so much more about her – not just her CV, but about Elaine as a friend, a sister, a daughter, a wife and a mother. It is that Elaine that I have so much respect for and admiration. Many women could not have survived what she has had to go through and I know I will remember the book for a long time.

      An excellent, but heart-breaking, read.


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    • Product Details

      Whatever It Takes is the story of a no-nonsense working-class girl who hit the big time and enjoyed several happy years as one of the nation's favourite soap stars.

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