Best new Oct reads
Muddy's bookworm Kerry Potter has glorious celeb gossip, literary big-hitters and a must-read on relationships this month. Read all about her October picks.
Book of the month
The Glossy Years by Nicholas Coleridge
As an ex glossy hack, I was naturally drawn to this gloriously gossipy memoir by Coleridge, the veteran Conde Nast publisher, responsible for Vogue, Tatler, Vanity Fair and Glamour. But this an autobiography with broader appeal – it’d take a stony heart not to get drawn in to Coleridge’s thrilling social whirl. He’s one of those people who has been at the centre of everything for decades – every party, every scandal, every celebrity headline. And he doesn’t hold back here.
Welcome to Anecdote Central. His pal Princess Diana phones to ask if he thinks her boobs are too small, after topless photos are splashed across a front page and a teenage Prince William is teased accordingly at school. His New York-based billionaire boss has a pug which gets its own seat on Concorde and when the pooch dies and is duly replaced by a younger model, the boss demands Coleridge persuades BA to transfer the dead pug’s air miles to its successor. Elsewhere, he signs off outrageous expenses racked up by legendary fashion stylist Isabella Blow. After a shoot in Liverpool, she hails a black cab – on a meter – to take her back to London. Her explanation? She was unaware that the northern city had a train station.
And so it goes on, with Vogue editors Anna Wintour and Alexandra Shulman, Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne (his god daughter) and Prince Andrew (revealed here as a dimwit – who knew?!) all cropping up. I’d recommend starting with the index – which reads like an A-list party guestlist – and dipping in from there.
There are admittedly passages that grate. Coleridge is an old Etonian (naturally), from a world where his school mates bring back braces of pheasants from their country houses after the weekend and hang them outside their bedroom doors, and he doesn’t seem to have much awareness of the world beyond such privilege. I’ll confess to swiftly turning the page when he starts going on about building a folly in the grounds of his country pile. But his writing is witty, intelligent and self-deprecating and if you’re looking for a deep dive into the world where the devil really does wear Prada, this is irresistible.
Also out this month…
Afternoons With The Blinds Drawn by Brett Anderson is another memoir with a high glamour quotient – but a high grit one too. The Suede singer’s debut book, Coal Black Mornings, was an evocative rendering of his suburban childhood from which an embryonic rock star emerged. This sequel is the money shot, charting his band’s purple patch in the ’90s, taking in addiction, fall-outs, excess and brain-frying fame. His writing is exquisite – you definitely don’t need to be a die-hard Britpop fan to take pleasure in this.Elsewhere, two literary big-hitters return. Zadie Smith’s Grand Union is her first collection of short stories, which dart between genres and settings. I always think the short story format is a gift for frazzled women – you can dip in for a five minute bedtime read before conking out. And Akin is the new novel from Emma Donoghue. Her first with a modern setting since best-seller Room, it’s a family drama about a retired New York professor and his troubled 11-year-old great nephew, an odd couple who embark on a voyage of discovery to the French Riviera.Onto non-fiction and Couples That Work by Jennifer Petriglieri is causing a buzz in the self-help world. A professor of organisational behaviour, she spent five solid years researching dual career couples, where both partners have jobs they care deeply about. She unpicks common patterns and problems, with the result a book that shows how your relationship can thrive even when both of you are pushing forward at work. Apparently getting hung up on divvying up chores is a red herring, while a midlife crisis can actually be a positive thing. It’s an enlightening read, crammed with solid advice – and has been a game-changer in my household. And finally I’ve included The Hedgerow Apothecary by Christine Iverson because I’m hazarding a guess that if you’re a Muddy reader you probably live near a hedgerow or two (I was been stripping blackberries off my nearest one last weekend, in fact). This charming little book is rammed with recipes, remedies and tips for foraging. Spiced wassail cider, anyone?