I really enjoyed this biography of the Carter family. I expected to enjoy it, as I've heard good things about it, and I love the music of the Carters. But I really zipped through the book because it was very easy to read, and well-written.
The story of the Carter family is really the story of the recording industry and the story of country music in the US, all rolled up into one biography. This book focused mostly on the inner family story of the three Carters and their relations, rather than intentionally bringing out the history of recorded music or the history of country music. I think that would have interrupted the flow of the story, and made for a less pleasurable reading experience, though the information might have been nice.
The story of the Carter family is a fascinating one, full of human drama, joy, sorrow, bitterness, and everything else that humans generate for themselves. I knew most of the story of the original Carter family (Maybelle, Sara, and A.P.), but I enjoyed getting to know the part of the story in the 1950s through the 1980s, when Maybelle's daughters, the Carter sisters, were at the height of their careers. The Hank Williams and Johnny Cash years are described here with the same compassion that the rest of the story gets, a mostly sympathetic narrative. Maybelle is especially developed here, as she was the most visible member of the original Carter family, since she continued performing long after the other two retired.
They had their share of fun times, but the overwhelming sense of the story is heartbreak. AP and Sara's divorce in the 1930s, followed by her marriage to her ex-husband's cousin, the dissolution of the trio in the 1940s, and AP Carter's decline into relative obscurity, along with the all other deaths and sadness of any other American family, make this story both ordinary and extraordinary.
It was a very pleasurable read.