Book Review ~ The Wives by Lauren Weisberger

The-WivesEmily Charlton, ex-assistant to legendary fashion editor Miranda Priestly, does not do the suburbs. She’s a successful stylist and image consultant to Hollywood’s stars but – thanks to the Snapchatting millennials stealing precious business – her career’s under threat. When Graham Hartwell, a senator with presidential ambitions, frames and publicly dumps her old friend Karolina, Emily winds up in Greenwich – with the client of a lifetime.

He couldn’t have known what’s coming. He’s reckoned without the wives…

The Wives was published as When Life Gives You Lululemons in America, and though I had no idea at the time I downloaded it from Netgalley, it’s a sequel to The Devil Wears Prada (though there has been another sequel in between). At first, when Miranda Priestly’s name was mentioned, I thought it was just inhabiting the same world as that book, but as I read on, it became clear that the Emily Charlton, one of the protagonists here, is the Emily that worked for Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine.

I read The Devil Wears Prada way back when, and I don’t remember having a huge problem with it at the time. I also quite enjoyed the film, though it has been years since I saw it. This book picks up some years later; Emily is now working as a professional problem solver for various celebrity clients, and living in California, with her partner. The chapters alternate between her story, and that of two other women; Karolina, wife of an ambitious senator, and Miriam, a former New York City lawyer who has moved to the suburbs with her family. The women are linked by Miriam, who are friends with them both, and who brings them together when Karolina faces a crisis with her husband that Emily steps in to help solve.

The one major problem that I have with The Wives is not something that I can talk about in a review, because it would be a very late spoiler for the plot. I’ll just say that I don’t think the character of Emily is served particularly well, and I think that it would have been good for her to have been able to stand by her convictions in a stronger way that she ended up doing. Overall, I enjoyed the story well enough, though there’s absolutely no substance whatsoever beyond the searing insight into life in the US suburbs is a hotbed of plastic surgery, extra-marital sex, and far too much money. The link to The Devil Wears Prada comes in thick and fast by the end of the novel, meaning that we get to be around the hateful character of Miranda Priestly for a few pages.

I read it on a plane, and it was a perfectly enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, but as I look to diversify my reading habits, I have to say that the likes of this – a story about three white, rich women – won’t be troubling my TBR lists going forward.

The Wives by Lauren Weisberger (Published as When Life Gives You Lululemons elsewhere)
Publication Date: 12th July 2018
HarperCollins
Provided by publisher via Netgalley

Photo an Hour #51 ~ October 2017

I feel like I’m on a bit of a roll now with getting up to date with Photo an Hour, though obviously these are famous last words. Last October’s Photo an Hour saw me in Bedford, seeing my brother and his family for my niece’s birthday. I really like the photos from this day!

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8am ~ I slept in my nephew’s bed, and woke up to realise Superman had been keeping watch over me while I slept.

9am ~ Admiring Molly’s amazing autumnal dress.

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11am ~ After a stop for breakfast which I failed to photograph, Molly and I headed into town for some birthday shopping. It’s so spending time with my nieces and nephews and watching them grow up; they are so cute as babies but I really cherish the relationship I get to have with them as they get older and develop their personalities. My grown up nieces and nephews are amongst my very favourite people in all the world.

1pm ~ Shopping is tough work, and I missed a few photos! Mollly was deliberating over whether or not to buy this keyring, so she asked me to attach it to her bag and take a photo so she could make a decision. She decided against it in the end.

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2pm ~ As Molly and I have birthdays that are six days apart, in return for me taking her shopping, she wanted to take me for coffee, so we had a pitstop in Costa.

4pm ~ Another missed hour, but by four o’clock we were back at my brother’s house and Harry, my nephew, was playing with his cars.

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5pm ~ A quick stop at the park before I had to go and get my train, and Harry displayed his extraordinary climbing, swinging, and general monkey-like skills. Seriously, this boy is fearless.

6pm ~ Waiting for my train. How odd, as I write this at 9pm on a sunny summer evening, to imagine that it was this dark at 6pm in the evening. Aren’t seasons funny?

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7pm ~ St Pancras – halfway home! And that’s where the photos stop; no doubt my battery was very much dead by this point in the day!

And because I took an uneven number of photos, please enjoy this one, that my sister-in-law took of me and the children, playing with leaves in the park. There’s a few that she took that I absolutely love; these children are beautiful and very photogenic!

In case you’d like to play next time around, June’s day is set for 28th July. It’s really easy to join in, just take a photo each hour and upload it to Instagram using the hashtag, or save them for a blog post. Once I’m up to date, I’ll start rounding up who joins in, but in the meantime, Louisa at Duck in a Dress is a lot more organised than me, and actually does the round up post!

My Vegan Diary ~ Soho Vegan Market, Yorica & The Diner

As yet, my vegan adventures, outside of the day to day, have been largely confined to London. Mostly due to the proximity; it takes me around an hour to be there by train, and once I’m there, a veritable vegan wonderland awaits. Vegan food in London isn’t hard to find – the problem is narrowing down the choice.

Soho Vegan Market

In April I had plans to see The West Wing Weekly live at the Union Chapel in Islington, so Hannah and I decided to get in as much vegan food as we could manage (that’s quite a lot). It was the first day of the Soho Vegan Market in Rupert Street, so we headed along to check it out.

The market is made up of a handful of food stands, and though it’s always so hard to choose when you are surrounded by such great vegan food, I opted for Jake’s Vegan Steaks, which I had missed out on at Vegan Life Live. The steaks are seitan (wheat gluten, if you’re unaware), and go into a sandwich with added extras.

Jake's Vegan Steaks

I love seitan, but have never actually cooked with it. I’d much rather leave that to the experts! The sandwich was delicious, but I didn’t end up eating it all as there was a lot there. Hannah went for the steamed bao buns from Eat Chay (which she highly recommends).

Vegan Bao Steamed Buns

Yorica

On the way to the market, we had quite coincidentally walked past Yorica, the vegan ice cream shop. It’s another one that I haven’t had a chance to try yet, so it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Vegan ice cream is fairly easy to find in supermarkets, but can be harder to get hold of when eating out. Going into a shop where nothing is off limits is nothing short of a treat!

Vegan Ice Cream Yorica

Vegan Ice Cream Yorica

I had a scoop of mint choc chip, and a scoop of chocolate – a classic but great combination. I also added some letter-shaped sprinkles.

The Diner

As the podcast recording that I was heading to was in Islington, we decided to grab dinner at The Diner. They are a great choice for vegan food in London; they have various branches in the capital, and a great vegetarian and vegan menu. Unsurprisingly, they sell all the traditional American diner dishes that you’d expect, and the vegan options include breakfasts, pancakes, burgers, and salads.

Southern Fried Seitan

Hannah and I both opted for the Southern Fried Seitan Burger, and it was delicious. It’s a lot of seitan for one day, but what are you going to do?

I’ll never stop wanting to eat all the vegan food in London, but I’m hoping that as time goes on, I can explore a few vegan eateries a little closer to home. I’d like to discover the best of what Essex has to offer!

This week in podcasts

Podcasts

These days, if I’m not reading, I’m probably listening to a podcast. In fact, my love for podcasts is probably the reason that my yearly books-read total has taken a bit of a dive, because I can’t get enough of podcasts, and sadly, as good as I am at multi-tasking, I can’t listen and read at the same time.

So I thought I’d do a semi-regular series (all of my series are semi-regular) in which I simply round up what I’ve been listening to. If I can pull my finger out enough to make this a weekly thing, I will. If not, it will be as often as I can find the time to write it.

Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year is a brand new podcast that has been established to replace the Radio 2 Book Club, that used to make up part of Mayo’s Drivetime show. With the advent of a scheduling change, the book club was dropped, so Mayo and his former co-host, Matt Williams, have started this new podcast to fill that gap. The first episode features a fiction and a non-fiction pick: Widows by Lynda La Plante and Reveal by Robbie Williams respectively. The episode includes a chat with each author, both of which are illuminating and interesting (even for a major non-Williams fan like me), and the chemistry between Mayo and Williams that worked so well on the Radio 2 show is here in abundance. There’s also a section for unpublished work, with this week’s episode featuring a story from a ten-year-old that was sent in by his mum. It’s a tried and tested format that works, and while it’s a shame that literary coverage has been dropped from primetime radio, this is a great replacement.

Now into their fifth season, this week The West Wing Weekly covers the fifth episode of the fifth season of The West Wing – Constituency of One. The fifth season is a problematic one for many West Wing fans, as it was the first without the Messianic figure of Aaron Sorkin, and at the end of the last season of this podcast, we learnt that one of our co-hosts, Hrishikesh Hirway, had only watched up to the end of the Sorkin era, and is watching most of the episodes from here on out for the first time. This episode features an interview Jennifer Palmieri, the former White House communications director for Obama, and was communications director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. As ever, this is a podcast that pays very close attention to the details of the episode, and gives what amounts to a close textual analysis. It’s really rather wonderful (though probably less appealing to those who aren’t West Wing fans).

If you’re following and enjoying the World Cup, I recommend the Guardian’s World Cup Football Daily. Unsurprisingly, given its name, there’s a new episode every day, and it simply takes a look at the football action of the day. There’s a lot of technical talk about the games; tactics, players and statistics are all discussed, but as it’s a Guardian production, they aim go a little deeper, and they have erudite correspondents who really know what they are talking about. Definitely recommended for anyone who’s following the football.

Finally, for all you true crime fans, I’ve just started listening to an Australian podcast called The Teacher’s Pet, about Lyn Dawson, a woman who went missing in 1982. It’s widely believed that she was murdered, and two coronial inquests have found that her death was caused by her husband, though there’s no body, and the police don’t seem to have investigated too thoroughly in the early days of her disappearance. I’m only two episodes in, but like all great true crime podcasts, it appears to be well-produced, well-researched, and draws you in from the get-go.

 

Links:

Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year
iTunes | acast

The West Wing Weekly
iTunes | acast

World Cup Football Daily
iTunes | acast

The Teacher’s Pet
iTunes | acast

Photo by LUM3N on Unsplash