Emma Cowing: Tell it like it is, Pippa, and we might buy it
I HAVEN’T read The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas, one of the 179 books currently outselling Pippa Middleton’s Celebrate on Amazon’s list of bestsellers, but I have a sneaking suspicion that when it comes to literary merit, they’re probably neck and neck.
Poor Pippa. It seems that literally no-one is rushing in their droves to buy her book, despite a rumoured £400,000 advance, a whirlwind of publicity in both the UK and the United States, and a parody account on Twitter called Pippatips with almost 20,000 followers.
Instead, Celebrate is floundering at 180 in the Amazon UK charts and at a lowly 308 on the Amazon US list, and the internet retailer on both sides of the pond has slashed its price in an attempt to shift copies. Perhaps she should rename it Commiserate.
The problem with Celebrate, say the massed ranks of book reviewers who have poured icy disdain upon its 416 pages, is that it is not very good. They’re right, of course. In fact as books about party-giving go, it’s pretty dreadful. Indeed, as one of the unfortunate few who have read Pippa’s book from cover to cover, I can attest that this is true.
As a result of following Pippa’s advice, I am now fully equipped to make my own sage and onion stuffing for Christmas (a “must-have” accompaniment “to turkey”), heat up haggis for Burns Night (“always check the packet instructions”) and make an Easter bonnet for Easter Sunday (“tie a ribbon around the hat”). I’ve read out-of-date bus tickets with more useful information.
Of course, not being very good hasn’t stopped books from selling in their droves before. Just look at the phenomenal success of EL James of 50 Shades of Grey fame, who writes sentences such as “my inner goddess was doing the merengue” with a straight face, or indeed Katie Price, who, you may be distressed to hear, has written five works of fiction with titles like Angel Uncovered, all of which have sold in disturbing numbers.
No, the real problem with Pippa’s book is not that it is bad, but that it is not credible. Pippa is a 29-year-old single woman with a fluttering social life who lives in London. In April of this year she was caught on camera laughing her head off in Paris as a friend brandished a gun (which later turned out to be fake) at a photographer. In September, it was rumoured she was dating millionaire hotelier Andre Balazs, and by November, it appeared she had moved on to investment banker James Matthews.
How Pippa chooses to spend her free time is, of course, her concern, and as a single not-yet-thirty-something with a great wardrobe and pots of money there’s absolutely no reason why she shouldn’t go out and date a string of hunky men if she so pleases (although I think we’d all prefer it if she ditched the ones that think it’s funny to wave fake guns around for a “joke”).
But unfortunately for her, Pippa cannot have her ice cream sandcastle cake (p368: “Buy a tub of vanilla ice cream”) and eat it. The tone of Celebrate is very much about family festivities. The pages are littered with pictures of Ms Middleton laying tables for children’s parties, helping small children make cakes and constructing Halloween ghosts in the middle of a field somewhere. The message she attempts to get across of is of cosy domesticity, of warm, wholesome evenings in the Home Counties surrounded by small people and large dogs.
Pull the other one, Pippa. We all know, because you are constantly photographed, that this is not the sort of life that you lead. It is an act of supreme arrogance then, to assume that we will all rush out and purchase a book in which you tell us all how to do something you clearly do not do yourself.
Love or hate her, Nigella Lawson has credibility because the life she advocates in her books and her TV programmes is the one she lives every day. Other cookery writers such as Jamie Oliver and Nigel Slater are the same.
Perhaps Pippa should have written a book on how to date a banker, or get a really firm set of glutes.
That, unlike her unconvincing domestic advice, might just have had the faintest ring of authenticity.
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