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Free Gift with Purchase: My Improbable Career in Magazines and Makeup Hardcover – April 18, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1ST edition (April 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307237486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307237484
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,075,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The beauty editor of Lucky magazine, Godfrey-June endears herself to readers with her admission that even she—a woman who receives "between fifty and two hundred products a day"—has the occasional bad hair day, the kind that "takes over and infects your entire being, moving quickly from your hair to your skin to your expression to your entire demeanor." Her memoir is fun, instructive and dishy (she used to work at Elle and recounts all manner of office brouhahas involving such personalities as the French creative director she calls "The Playboy," and the American editor-in-chief, dubbed "Above the Fray"). Certain readers will be enthralled by a clued-in woman demystifying what is for many an impervious world: this is what really works, and this is what's bunkum. But other snippets—Godfrey-June's thoughts on Chanel (buy one piece at full price and that's it, forever) and the Victoria's Secret fashion show (akin to a Siegfried and Roy performance), for instance—are less compelling. What saves the memoir from devolving into a series of pointless anecdotes is her constant awareness that her job is "impossible to take seriously." Some people devote their lives to finding a cure for cancer, but "Me, I ponder lipstick." (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The book is full of insider jokes (which Godfrey-June shares) and multiple mentions of fashion celebrities such as Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford. It is also loaded with almost--every-page sidebars that reveal the truth about big-night makeup, positive spa outcomes, and best haircuts, among a passel of beauty tips and hints. Through it all, our faithful guide, beauty editor of Lucky^Bmagazine, dispenses humorous information about her career, the fashion business, pregnancy, magazines' fashion closets, and the always-present battle against encroaching age. Much of her captivating prose is laugh-out-loud funny (the Fifi Awards story, for one) as well as eminently practical (think about bestowing a basket of beauty products on health-care caregivers). Who could argue against the statement that perfume is "the beauty equivalent of mystery meat"? Or that models are simply genetic freaks? A feel-good, tell-the-truth, behind-the-scenes look at the fashion business. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Meg C. Halverson on April 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Jean Godfrey-June offers beauty advice that real women (even, gasp, working moms) can benefit from. Her monthly column in Lucky magazine is something I flip to first, with much anticipation, and she manages to cut through the hoo-ha of beauty marketing with both grace and humor. Equally admirable in my book, she makes trenchant observations about the crossover products -- those products one buys for your children or other members of your family that can be re-used for yourself. In this way, her guidance marries the best of the women's magazine ilk (do it cheaper or more efficiently) with the heady fashion forward tone of Lucky. I love going to Target with her column in hand, and buying 60% of what appears in any given month. And when she does reccomend a pricier item, I have full confidence that it will not disappoint. I think it's entirely possible that she is beauty's fairy godmother for every woman (and baby, teen, and man, to boot).
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bookaholic on October 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you liked "The Devil Wears Prada," the book or the movie, you will love this book. It's like a non-fiction version of the same story -- nice girl works at huge, fancy magazine with stuck-up, crazy people. NOTE, the author is mostly writing about her time at Elle Magazine. I was truly pleased with the level of dish. It almost made me want to dig around the internet for the real identities of these wacky magazine people. I also like how the author, Jean, gave us in the inside story on being a beauty editor -- lots of fancy, but boring, lunches with lots of free products, a whole closet of beauty products at her disposal. But, and she is the first to admit, most of these are hyped-up, useless, French-scientist-touted jars of goop. It's refreshing to have Jean tell the truth but admit to being taken in by the glamour. The other thing I liked is that it sounds like her new employer, Lucky Magazine, is a swell place to work -- which is great since I personally love the magazine and am glad to know that the people behind it are as good as the product. If you are interested in makeup, magazine publishing, then you should read this book. I will just warn you that it starts slowly -- Jean spends a few chapters discussing her youth, and this may not be your cup of tea or resound with you. It'll sound much better in the novel I hope Jean writes!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. Griffin VINE VOICE on July 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed Free Gift with Purchase. Athough it might be hard to tell from looking at my wardrobe or make-up, I am a big fan of beauty and fashion magazines, and read almost all of them each month, plus some from Europe. Godfrey-June provides an inside perspective of working for two famous beauty magazines, and of the products and companies that they feature. As you would expect from a established writer, the book is very well written, and although there is some insider gossip, none of it is uber-mean.

Godfrey-Jean intersperses some personal anecdotes along with her work stories, including a hilarious story about how June's mother made June and her sister get pixie cuts when they were young. I thought my mom was the only one!

Free Gift with Purchase is an engaging afternoon read, both for the subject matter and the adept handling by the author.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Ever wonder what a beauty editor really, truly thinks of the products that fill her magazine's pages? Or, hypothesize about what happens to the between 50 and 200 free beauty items that come across her desk every day? If so, pick up a copy of "Free Gift With Purchase" by the winning tell-it-like-it-is Beauty Editor of Lucky Magazine, Jean Godfrey-June. She has crafted a breezy, down to earth, funny peek behind the scenes look at what goes on in the glamorous world of makeup and skin care, which she allows is "impossible to take seriously."

As she notes, she has a cousin who is immersed in research, helping to find a cure for pediatric cancer. "Me," she writes, "I ponder lipstick."

Her memoir is aptly subtitled "My Improbable Career in Magazines and Makeup." Rightly so, because as she says she used to think she was ugly. In fact, while a youngster her one concern was that "people would mistake me for a boy." But life has a way of surprising us - she never dreamed she would some day do an interview on a hotel bed with Tom Ford. And, she found herself attracted to the mystique of those lotions, potions, and colors that held so much promise. As she writes, "It's like candy, all those little boxes and bottles."

Her take on fellow workers at Elle magazine is hilarious - there was "The Playboy" ("noted for the trail of broken hearted supermodels in his wake); "The Fashionista" who ruled the fashion department; and "Eminence Grise" who evidently had money and gave input to the magazine re finances and personnel issues. Sound a bit like "The Devil Wears Prada"? It's even funnier.

Godfrey-June's tales of the parties, the trips to Paris, and the fashion show seatings are fodder for daydreams of life among the glamoratti.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Eye-la-eye on April 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I love this book which marries the accessibility of a well-written magazine article with the bounce and surprise of a favorite novel. I read it for the story, and also came away with useful beauty tips. I felt a genuine, unanticipated boost in my own self-esteem. Boost? Yes, inspired by Godfrey-June's honest accounts of her own coming-of-age into the world of fashion and media. Who doesn't want to experience the inside of a very popular, fun and chic clique (without having to experience any of the downside of fitting in)? Her hilarious stories allow me to keep my fantasy that no one feels like they fit in or have the perfect body even if it looks so from the outside (ok maybe a couple ego maniacs like the "Playboy" or "Model-Wife").

What did I do after reading? Ran out and bought a bunch of make-up and beauty products, of course.
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