Tuesday, 29 November 2011
And no, she’s not spilling the beans on growing up with her elder sister, the Duchess of Cambridge. She’s being paid to write a guide on party planning for publisher Michael Joseph. They weren’t the only ones falling over themselves to buy the book either. Apparently it was the subject of a fierce bidding war between some of Britain’s top publishing houses.
Most writers would give their eye-teeth for such a contract – but sadly deals like this are few and far between, especially in these tough economic times. Some novelists work night and day for years on their manuscripts – and end up with a few hundred pounds in their pockets. And they’re the lucky ones. Many more never even get a sniff of a publishing deal.
But envy aside, what on earth can Pippa Middleton, whose parents run mail-order business Party Pieces, say about parties that’s new? In a recent blog on children’s parties she wrote: “The key to creating a wonderful party lies not in spending vast amounts but in planning – from choice of venue, entertainer and party theme to the selection of food, decorations and the birthday cake.”
Hmmm. Talk about stating the blooming obvious. I’m afraid Pippa will have to do an awful lot better than that to get people to buy the book.
In my experience hosting children’s birthday parties is hard work, stressful and often ends in tears.
The most successful one we ever held was for my daughter’s fourth birthday. I’d got everything planned to perfection (or so I thought) – a list of party games as long as your arm, food, a cake with my daughter's name emblazoned across it and the all-essential party bags.
My daughter’s birthday is just before Christmas so the centrepiece of the party was a gorgeous tree, resplendent with jewel-coloured decorations. The one thing we hadn’t foreseen however was the exuberance of 25 four-year-olds dancing about and throwing themselves to the floor. During a particularly rowdy game of musical bumps they dived to the ground with such force that the ten-foot tree wobbled violently and crashed over, fairy, decorations, lights and all.
It was a moment of high drama (luckily the tree didn’t hit anyone) and it certainly made the event the most-talked about party in her nursery class for months afterwards.
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
“Lonely Kate moves Pippa in.” That’s the headline emblazoned in pink and white lettering across the cover of this week’s Grazia magazine. The story inside claims that while Prince William works all hours as an RAF search and rescue pilot, his bride is becoming “increasingly isolated and bored” at home in remote North Wales.
I’ve no idea how accurate the report is but if it’s true then I’m not surprised she’s fed up. Apparently she fills the lonely hours by baking, learning Welsh and hill-walking. Not the most scintillating pastimes for a 49-year-old, let alone a young woman of 29.
Palace aides are reportedly so concerned that Kate’s lifestyle is too middle-aged that the magazine says the royal couple have decided she’ll spend every other week in London – with her sister Pippa by her side.
Marrying into the Royal Family can’t be easy but since Kate is talented, clever (she’s got a 2:1 art history degree from St Andrew’s University) and personable I don’t understand why she doesn’t work. As Noel Coward once said, work is “more fun than fun,” and if Kate had more to occupy her days I bet she’d be more fulfilled.
Seasoned royal watchers often remark that it’s impossible to combine a royal role with a career, but William and Harry seem to manage just fine. And Princess Anne’s children, Peter and Zara Phillips, too. But if Kate really can’t find a career that uses her skills, then why doesn’t she roll up her sleeves and throw herself into full-time charity work? She wouldn’t have time to be bored.
PS: The new film of Jane Eyre (above) is a triumph from start to finish. Australian actress Mia Wasikowska is brilliant as Charlotte Bronte’s eponymous heroine, plain and mouse-like one minute, passionate and brave the next, while Michael Fassbender is the best Mr Rochester I’ve seen in years. The real star of the show, however, is the wild, windswept Derbyshire landscape. Gazing at the majestic moors and high stone crags made me want to move north on the spot.
Friday, 1 July 2011
But over the last three years I’ve become hooked on Lynda La Plante’s compelling Anna Travis stories. I was gripped the moment I read the first one, Above Suspicion, and have snapped up the rest the instant they’re out.
I’m in luck because the seventh in the series, Blood Line, was published last week and soared straight to the top of the hardback fiction charts. And yet again, despite the gruesome crime scenes, I can’t put it down.
This time round, Anna Travis has been promoted to DCI and is taking charge of an investigation into the case of a clean-cut young man who’s been reported missing. On the surface Alan Rawlins sounds like a loving son, dutiful boyfriend and kind-hearted friend, but when Travis begins to investigate she discovers a sinister web of lies and secrets. Blood Line is chilling, scary – and like the rest of the series, utterly compelling. I’m not always convinced by her dialogue but La Plante is a consummate story-teller.
La Plante made her name with ITV’s highly-acclaimed Prime Suspect, starring Dame Helen Mirren, but she’s also a highly-skilled novelist who weaves the horror of Travis’s day-to-day work with the machinations of her tangled love life.
Much of the success of the Anna Travis series hinges on the on-off relationship between the young copper and her charismatic boss, Detective Chief Superintendent James Langton. The two were briefly an item, but now Langton’s remarried, with two children, and Travis is mourning the devastating loss of her fiancé. Even so, there’s still a spark between them (Langton secretly admits he’d rekindle their affair like a shot) and their scenes are the best in the book.
It’s a mark of the Anna Travis books’ success that three of them have been adapted for ITV, with Kelly Reilly starring as Travis and Ciaran Hinds as Langton, and a fourth has been commissioned. The TV dramas aren’t half as good as the novels but they’re a sure-fire sign that La Plante is on to a winner with Travis and Langton. Hopefully there'll be more on the way.
PS: I don’t want to be a spoilsport about this but why is everyone being so ridiculous about the Duchess of Cambridge’s arrival in Canada? Today’s Daily Mail talks about how she’s “won the hearts of a nation” while a 14-year-old girl who turned out to see her said “this is a moment that will never be erased from my memory – not ever.” All Kate has done is look stylish (in three designer dresses) and smile charmingly. Surely our heroines in life should be women who have achieved a little bit more than this?