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Free Gift with Purchase: My Improbable Career in Magazines and Makeup Hardcover – April 18, 2006
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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.
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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Top customer reviews
At the start of her book, Godfrey-June describes growing up with no-frills intellectual parents (hence the "improbable" in her subtitle). I think that the narrative about her teenage years could be condensed, hence the four star rank. I can see how certain experiences in one's formative years could have a direct bearing on shaping one's outlook later on in life. However, the start of the book has a rambling quality to it that may discourage readers from going on to the rest of the book.
Godfrey-June's narrative of being employed in the fashion industry is witty, informative and thoughtful. She conveys the unpredictability inherent in her line of work, the stakes involved in catering to fads, as well as dealing with the whims of powerful, mercurial people who run the business. The perks are there, but she's quick to point out that creating illusions year after year is hard work.
The best part of the book are the side notes. Even if you don't read the main content of the book, I suggested you read these grey shaded boxes. Within those, the author shares a wealth of valuable tips, hints and tidbits.
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.
I ended up being extremely disappointed.
Maybe its the conversion to an ebook that does the damage. There are distracting "tip boxes" that in a normal book, you would understand their placement, but in an ebook they look like new chapters or the like, and its distracting and disjointing and in the end, utterly useless to have these tip boxes come up. Some of them can take a couple of pages to go away and by that point you've lost the flow (what little flow there is) of the story.
I like a good trashy read, but this book just doesn't do it for me.
If you're looking for how it should be done, read "Bringing Home the Birkin".