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Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter (2010)

by Randy L. Schmidt

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17010129,275 (3.89)24
An intimate profile of Karen Carpenter, a girl from a modest Connecticut upbringing who became a Southern California superstar.
  1. 00
    Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Both Karen Carpenter and Huguette Clark were essentially unknowable. The mysteries that surround both women make them intriguing, but frustrating, subjects for biography.

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I've given this 5 stars and I never finished it and I never put it on the Given Up On shelf.

Simply put I found it too upsetting to finish. I knew the ending and I really did not want to see that slow motion car crash unfold.

Karen Carpenter, for anyone too young to know, had one of the most amaing voices to appear in the 20th century. By and large the songs were crap but that voice would just stop you dead and pull feelings out of you that bypassed any conscious process you may have been engaged in at the time. I still cannot hear Rainy Days and Mondays without tearing up.


I wasn't interested in all the dates and places, it was the family dynamic I was interested in and it pretty much is all laid out here.

Suffering from an almost (at the time) unknown disease called anorexia nervosa, ignored, belittled and diminished by her mother this biography reads like a catalogue of intentional errors and wilful ignorance as she slowly fades away.

Sad, so sad, poor Karen.

( )
  Ken-Me-Old-Mate | Sep 24, 2020 |
Back when to Carpenters were big throughtout the 70's, i was in high school and college, and Carpenter music was not cool, it was considered too soft-rock/bubblegum for many people. Nevertheless, their music has held up well over the years. And Karen's voice is simply incredible, one of the most beautiful female voices of all time. This book tells her tragic story. This is the first well done biography written without the Carpenter family having rights to edit/censor the story.

An in depth biography of Karen Carpenter, lots of interviews with close friends. Well done, heartbreaking and insightful. That someone so gifted could have been so emotionally damaged by her family is a true shame. Yes, her mother was a piece of work, but Richard also is responsible for her problems, too. The book is well researched and well written. ( )
  JohnKaess | Jul 23, 2020 |
I don't know the exact reason why, almost 30 years later, Karen Carpenter's death still leaves me sad whenever I hear a song of hers on the radio or my iPod shuffle. From all accounts written about her, from everything friends of hers have said, Karen was a very fun and funny woman...kind, super talented and a genuine person. That's probably a major part of it.

But the way she died and how it eventually came to overshadow (in some ways, at least) her amazing voice and musical legacy...somehow that makes it all the more tragic.

In his heartfelt and touchingly sincere book _Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter_, Randy L. Schmidt gives the lovely singer what very few writers before him have: the ability to be taken seriously, free from any gaudy tabloid fanfare.

Schmidt's deep admiration for her is apparent, but so is his keen knack for attacking the story with a warm yet still objective approach.

Very few biographies have been written about Karen Carpenter, but of the ones that have been this is the one to read, the one that lays the story down without making it sound like a VH1 Behind the Music special.

( )
1 vote booksandcats4ever | Jul 30, 2018 |
This book was not authorized by the family. Any earlier biographies, tv movies, etc, were all authorized by her family and, seemingly, “whitewashed”. The author of this one talks to many, many people who knew Karen - friends, family, other celebrities - to put together her life.

Karen Carpenter was one of the siblings in the musical brother-sister duo, The Carpenters, who became stars in the 1970s. Karen became anorexic and died at 32-years old.

The above was about as much as I knew about Karen Carpenter. The Carpenters were big before I was born and when I was very young. I do remember some of their music from when I was younger, but I particularly remember watching the tv movie that aired in 1989. I was in high school at that time and that may have been when I found out about her anorexia. This book brings to light some of the reasons that she may have developed anorexia: an overprotective mother; a disastrous marriage; though she was the “star” of the Carpenters, she was always second-best in her family, as brother Richard was always her parents’ (or at least her mother’s) favourite, and that was never hidden.

There was a lot of detail about the songs/hits, etc. Maybe a bit too much. At the same time, I had a Carpenters soundtrack running through my head the entire time I was reading it! I even had to youtube their music to listen to some I didn’t know (or some I did know, but didn’t recognize based on the title). And I’m listening to The Carpenters as I write this review.

Overall, though, I thought it was very good. There was a lot I didn’t know about Karen, and it was all very interesting, and no question, very sad. ( )
  LibraryCin | Feb 11, 2017 |
Unlike the recent 'biography' of Freddie Mercury, which made me angry with the laziness of the authors, this objective study of Karen Carpenter stirred different emotions - sadness, of course, but also frustration. I wanted to go back in time and smack her mother and brother's heads together for feeding Karen's demons and then doing nothing to halt the tragic spiral of self-doubt and self-harm that eventually killed her. For me, and I suspect for most people, Karen was the Carpenters, with her beautiful voice. Richard might have been a great pianist and composer - of other people's songs (I wasn't aware that nearly all of their catalogue of hits were covers or written by other lyricists - not a crime, but I'm a fan of Queen, who wrote all their own material) - but she was the star. To quote Richard, I am very much 'Team Karen' - he's probably not as black as he's painted, but he could have encouraged his sister instead of holding her back to further his own career. And Agnes, Richard and Karen's mother, was probably the original 'soccer mom' - for her son's benefit, at least. Horrible woman - the biopic was spot on.

Yes, the Carpenters were MOR, no, they didn't write original songs, yes, they got stuck in a rut - but who can listen to Karen's soulful, emotional voice and not be moved, whether to sing along or just listen with a smile? Her death at 32 from a disease that nobody really understood, after being taken advantage of by those closest to her for most of her life, is one of music's great losses. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Dec 29, 2016 |
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An intimate profile of Karen Carpenter, a girl from a modest Connecticut upbringing who became a Southern California superstar.

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