Friday book review – The Wrong Knickers

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Friday 11th July 2014

Bryony GordonDaily Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon makes me feel very old.

Why? Because a scarily long time ago I used to sit next to her mum, Jane Gordon, at the daily newspaper where we both worked. Jane was inordinately proud of her two young daughters, Bryony and Naomi, and used to regale us with stories about them. Countless years later, the little girl I remember as a seven-year-old is a successful journalist herself.

Bryony has been writing about her life in her Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph columns for years but she’s now turned her experiences into a book called The Wrong Knickers. Incidentally, it’s a great title (inspired by a pair of Agent Provocateur knickers a lover handed to her the morning after the night before that, yes, weren’t hers), but perhaps not the easiest book to ask for in bookshops. A bespectacled assistant at Waterstone’s in Piccadilly backed away nervously when I asked him if he had The Wrong Knickers. “Er, I’ll just go and check,” he said, running away at lightning speed.

The Wrong Knickers covers Bryony’s rackety years as a single 20-something living in London, when everything was going swimmingly career-wise but the rest of her life was a mess. Binge drinking, drugs, one-night stands, grotty flats, an affair with a married man, they all featured – big time. The book is painfully honest, brilliantly written, sad, funny and makes me feel 103.

I loved it from start to finish, although the press coverage has been so extensive that I’d read the funniest stories before the man in Waterstone’s finally returned with a copy of the paperback.

It’s essential reading for women in their 20s – and for their mothers too. Jane wrote a moving piece in the Daily Mail yesterday berating herself for neglecting Bryony after she and her husband divorced (Bryony was 21 at the time) and saying that when she read the book she was haunted by the question: “Where on earth was this poor girl’s mother when all this was going on?” Actually I don’t reckon Jane should blame herself in the slightest. No girl in her 20s tells her mother everything – they never have and they never will.

As loyal Telegraph readers will know, one of the best things about Bryony’s story is that everything comes right in the end. She’s married to a dashing financial journalist called Harry Wilson, they have a gorgeous 15-month-old daughter and Bryony’s career is going from strength to strength. Mark my words, if this book isn’t made into a film some time soon I’ll eat my hat…

The Wrong Knickers by Bryony Gordon (Headline, £12.99)

2 comments so far

  • I know I keep saying it, but I wish I wish I wish you’d write a book about YOUR olden days as a journalist. And am so pleased you reviewed Bryony’s book; I wasn’t sure I’d buy it, but now I shall.

  • Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Carlie. Maybe I should write it. My first novel, Hard Copy, is a fictionalised version but maybe I should do the real version! Do let me know what you think of The Wrong Knickers! I do love that title!

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