RaveThe Sunday Times (UK)Vivid ... Pick-Goslar’s own story, not least her miraculous survival, is worth the book’s price on its own. Kraft tells it briskly and evocatively.
PositiveSunday Times (UK)Brisk and enjoyable ... It’s more of a clever cuts job, using memoirs and newspaper articles to collage together evocative portraits of the artists and their beleaguered wives. Ciuraru...has an eye for the telling detail, lifting her group biography far above the Wikipedia-lite fare it could have been ... I suspect she chose these five because they interested her. Her interest is infectious, even if a lot of the book will be familiar to those who have read Dundy’s, Neal’s or Howard’s memoirs.
PositiveThe Guardian (UK)I think the fascination of the monarchy is that no matter how many books are written about them, and no matter how hagiographic they intend to be, there’s always some new information within that proves they’re even more repulsive than you originally thought. This is genuinely impressive – superhuman, even – given that the Windsor’s shenanigans are about as unexamined as the assassination of JFK ... Brown doesn’t want her readers to hate the royals, which is always the problem with books about them. The royals, like celebrities, only matter as much as people believe they matter, and a book just about Andrew’s awfulness and Charles’s pettiness would be true, but would also make the reader question just why they are reading about this absurd, irrelevant family ... [Brown is] pretty much sticking to the script of the palace’s current PR strategy, which has cut the deadwood adrift and focused the spotlight entirely on the Queen and the Cambridges ... For those who haven’t encountered Brown’s writing before, The Palace Papers provides all the greatest hits ... You can’t write as much about the royals as Brown has without taking them seriously, and she absolutely does. Her writing becomes positively orgasmic when describing Kate’s alleged triumph in bagging William ... Brown is also an absolutely dogged researcher. A significant part of The Palace Papers seems to be gleaned from earlier, very well known books.
MixedThe Guardian (UK)Just as 1992’s Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words, by Andrew Morton, gave readers an intimate look at the royal family from the perspective of a disgruntled member of the firm, so this book repeats the trick with Diana’s younger son and his wife, Meghan Markle. What this semi-sequel lacks in novelty, it makes up for in cattiness (aimed largely – and this is the only real surprise of the book – at the woman born Kate Middleton, now known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge ... whereas Diana chose a tabloid hack as her Boswell, who knew a good story when he saw it, Harry and Meghan opted for two royal journalists. This means the reader is subjected to the Sylvie Krin style of writing that is de rigueur in the genre (I could just about stomach Harry and his \'famed ginger locks\', but details of his and Meghan’s glamping trip to Botswana, on which \'their days were spent getting closer to nature and their evenings, closer to each other\' made me briefly furious that the book hadn’t come with a health warning). Less forgivable than the predictable fluff is how the authors fluff the tale. Because Harry and Meghan definitely have a story to tell, but it is not the story in this book ... It is not Harry and Meghan’s fault that their book has come out in the middle of a global pandemic, but it does underscore their occasional tone deafness in the latter half of the book ... chokes the reader with banal details, yet it is opaque when it comes to real insights ... Despite all the fuming, the book is very cautious when it comes to the senior members of the royal family, and it’s interesting that it’s Kate who is the focus of the criticism rather than William. It may well be that, despite claiming he has finally found freedom, Harry is keeping a door open to his gilded cage. His mother could have told him that pulling punches doesn’t make for a satisfying book, but perhaps he also learned from her that burning bridges doesn’t make for an easy life.
PositiveThe San Francisco Book Review... as a Jewish reviewer, I recognize Freeman’s ability to glide gracefully from one uncle to another, each one bewilderingly changing his name to establish a new homeland ... This version of the saga, and a saga it certainly is, is a distanced chronicle written without the familiar ambivalence between sympathy and disparagement, the absence of barely acknowledged love and admiration. It makes for wider appreciation, but to others, perhaps deliberately, it just isn’t heimish.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)... outrageously enjoyable ... That he has celebrity anecdotes to burn is not a surprise. But the self-mocking tone is more unexpected from a musician so grand that at his 2014 wedding party he had one table dedicated solely to the Beatles and their families. Yet while his extraordinary talent justified his personal excesses, it is his self-awareness that has counterbalanced the narcissism and made him such a likable figure ... It quickly becomes clear in Me that few people are more suited to the celebrity autobiography genre, given that he combines the most essential ingredients of the form ... makes sure there is a laugh out loud moment on pretty much every other page. This gives a pacy originality to what could have been a by-the-numbers celebrity ... credit really must go to Elton, whose extremely amusing voice very much drives the book ... [John] is utterly, astonishingly, hilariously self-lacerating ... his clear-eyed honesty and his ear for the comic line make him a deeply appealing memoirist.
PositiveThe GuardianMcGowan’s book will not be the best book about the Weinstein scandal, but it may be the most visceral. Anger burns from every page ... But the problem with burning everything down is that it all becomes an indistinguishable pile of ash. The misogyny of gossip blogger Perez Hilton is a worthy target for McGowan; that actors occasionally have to perform wedding scenes is not ... This reads like a book written by a woman driven to near derangement by decades of abuse and gaslighting. At times I wished McGowan could filter her anger, highlighting the real abuses as opposed to folding them in among the generalised sexist garbage. But if she had been able do that she probably wouldn’t have written this book: self-control isn’t helpful when you are kicking down doors. McGowan set out to write a book that examines abuse, and she has done just that. She has also, inadvertently, shown how much damage abuse can wreak in even the toughest of women.
MixedThe GuardianBrown’s fun and often funny latest book is a sort-of (and far superior) follow-up to Life As a Party. It reveals What Tina Did Next ... Brown knows how to give her readers what they want, which is gossip about the celebrities and politicians she covered ... 'Everything in New York,' she writes at one point, 'is about personal marketing.' This certainly seems to be true of Brown, because this book isn’t really about a magazine, it’s about her, and my God, the selling is relentless ... It feels a little unfair to blame Brown for Weinstein, who, like Talk, does not feature in The Vanity Fair Diaries. But it is striking how kind she is to other men in it who have since been accused of harassment or worse.
PanThe GuardianIn trying to be so likable, Schumer seems dishonest. The only essays that ring true are those about her family, in particular the one in which she describes how it felt to watch her increasingly sick father lose control of his bowels in an airport and, later, how furious she still is with her mother for having had an affair 20 years ago ... As you’d expect of a comedian of Schumer’s calibre, the writing captures her voice and is often funny. But this book proves the theory that the larger a book’s advance, the less editing it gets.