The first 30 pages-or-so are rather startling: Ms. Monk goes on and on quoting Freud and Heidegger, and she doesn't fail to let us know that "[she] read lot of philosophy and psychoanalytic work"... supposedly to gain a better understanding of Joni Mitchell's persona, but I definitely smell a certain dose of self-importance on the author's part.
Afterwards, things do get a little better. The book is based on archive material, mostly old interviews, so it's interesting enough - provided you haven't already read it elsewhere. You get lots of info about Mitchell's public persona, about her struggle with a male-dominated showbiz industry and the pros and cons of (and her coping with) fame and success. And yet the material is somehow bizarrely displayed, due to the unfortunate choice of going with a thematic rather than chronological criterion. So you get a chapter about main influences ("Gods and monsters"), a chapter about Ms. Mitchell's sentimental relationships ("Love", of course) and so on. As a consequence of this criterion, you have in the first chapters a discussion over 1979 album "Mingus"; while a whole analysis of Ms. Mitchell's formative years and her fascination with Nietzsche (and a REALLY weighty overview of his writings) is placed right in the middle of the book (!)
As for Ms. Mitchell's artistic achievements, they tend to remain in the background, and it's here that the book seems mostly unbalanced, in my opinion. For instance, an album such as Ladies of the Canyon is barely acknowledged to exist as a whole, even if you do get about ten pages on the writing of song Woodstock alone. Other albums are merely acknowledged to exist; album "Night Ride Home" is not even mentioned, as if it never happened.
All considered, I had the distinct impression that Ms. Monk wrote at length when she had a lot of archive material to draw from; when not, she merrily passed by, without much (if any) research of new insight.
And this leads to what I think is the main problem of the book. The author didn't have access to Ms. Mitchell herself, since the artist wouldn't even consider talking to her. This I can understand, but the author doesn't seem to have made any attempt to talk to anyone who has worked, lived or has somehow been involved with Ms Mitchell, either.
So there's no fresh input.
Ms. Monk is obviously aware that this was "a huge problem", as she honestly (if rhetorically) asks herself in the introduction: "How do I add anything original to the already exhaustive amount of Joni material without any new Joni Mitchell musings?" I'm afraid the answer is: she doesn't.
My personal, final suggestion: anyone interested in Joni Mitchell might check out the Library on her official site [...]: there's an astonishing treasure trove of hundreds of articles and interviews, conveniently indexed by year, publication, author, type (interview/review) etc.
It's constantly updated and it's by far the best and most informative musician site I've ever run into, so my highest praise to Ms. Mitchell's site and those who manage it.