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The Independent Culture
Sarah, Duchess of York turns out to be her own best advocate as she reads her apologia pro vita sua, My Story (Simon & Schuster, c.3hrs, pounds 8.99). The truth may be more than a little titivated ("toe-sucking? We were playing Cinderella, actually") but she comes over as a gutsy, good- hearted lass who may have been unable to cope with both protocol and budgeting but who probably did her royal husband and the distinctly constipated bloodline of the Windsors no end of good. Riveting, if somewhat prurient, listening.

Catherine Cookson doesn't come across half so frankly in Her Way (Corgi, 1hr, pounds 7.99), a creaky compilation of songs she sang and taped in secret, set to an orchestral backing, with guarded biographical details and unexceptional philosophical reflections. But the memories were, after all, recorded when she was 90, and there are some touching moments.

Christina Hardyment