Pippa Middleton has to be admired. Despite the scathing criticism she received following the publication of her debut literary offering, “Celebrate: A Year of British Festivities for Families and Friends”, she is back for more.
Middleton’s second book, “Heartfelt,” has done nothing to quell the cries of mockery from her critics. Indeed, she has invited further ridicule by admitting that she has not tried all of the recipes in the book she has written.
“I would like to say I have made every single one, but I have definitely done a good 80 per cent of them,” the Duchess of Cambridge’s younger sister confessed in an interview.
Not exactly a shining beacon of exemplary PR – or, indeed, encouraging news for potential (hungry) punters.
Speaking of PR, it has been noted that in some of the photos in “Heartfelt,” which has been produced to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation, Pippa is wearing clothes made by the firm Chinti and Parker. Was this a discreet bit of advertising?
Regardless, we now find ourselves in the ironic situation where Pippa’s sister, Kate – who is the sole reason anyone has any interest in Pippa – rarely speaks in public; yet when Pippa talks publicly, we find she has nothing terribly interesting to say.
“Celebrate,” published in 2012, was not the bestseller that publishers at Penguin Random House expected, shifting only 2,000 copies in its first week. If reports from the time are believed, this was a bad deal for the publisher as Pippa was apparently paid £400,000 for the project.
The 415-page tome was brimming with vacuous tips. On wrapping presents, for example, Middleton advised that you should “place the present on the paper to gauge how much you will need, then cut to length.” On cooking for a Christmas party, readers were encouraged to “choose, if you can, a Christmas-themed menu. A turkey, for example, can be perfect for large gatherings.”
It’s a wonder we’ve ever celebrated the Birth of Christ without such pearls of wisdom.
Pippa herself acknowledged its poor reception, later saying “I believed in it and can’t blame anyone else, but maybe it might have been better if I had waited a bit longer before doing it.”
And wait she has. Four years on, it remains to be seen whether “Heartfelt” will fly off the shelves but it seems to me that Pippa is the figurehead for a wider movement, and it is a sad one. More than ever before, certain people can publish a specialist book off the back of a celebrity cult without having any actual expertise or knowledge. Having admitted that she hasn’t even tried all of the recipes in the book, Heartfelt is surely a case in point.
It is a sorry story for aspiring writers out there that publishers are happier trying to flog this stuff than they are seeking out new talent or taking a chance on a book which may on the surface be a riskier proposition.
Heat Street noted in May that Pippa had given up her day-to-day job in the family business, Party Pieces. Some wonder whether she has also quietly packed in her role as contributing editor at Vanity Fair. As she prepares for married life, it would be unsurprising if she had chosen to drop both commitments.
Still, Pippa is tough, and though we may not be hotfooting it to our libraries to sandwich her works in-between Maugham and Molière, one has to acknowledge that she is unstoppable – rather than unputdownable.
Clearly, this is what the publishing industry believes.