Tongue in Chic by Kirstie Clements

In brief: Kirstie is the editor of the fictitious Chic magazine – this is what really goes on behind the scenes of the magazine world.

The good: Gossipy reading that you simply must finish.

The not-so-good: Sits uncomfortably between fiction and non-fiction for me. Plus, are Nine West shoes and Fossil watches really the sign of a degenerate individual or bad tempered snark?

Why I chose it: Enjoyed The Vogue Factor. From Net Galley and Melbourne University Press – thank you.

Year: 2013

Pages: 129 (ebook)

Publisher: Victory Books

Setting: The fashion world

My rating: 6.5 out of 10

Tongue in Chic is a book that’s been hovering on the edge of my radar for some time. Not only does the paperback come in lots of pretty colours, but I do love a book set within the world of magazines. When it came to reading this book though…I have mixed feelings about it. I simply could not put it down (I read this in one day) but even though some bits were fascinating, some were just awkward.

I was expecting a fictional novel set in the world of magazines from the blurb. As I started reading, I got a little confused. Kirstie herself is the major character (nothing wrong with that), but then I got confused as to what was fiction and what might have been real but disguised. (I like magazines and fashion, but I’m certainly no insider). Living the high life during Fashion Week was loads of fun to read, but some of the conflict with others was uncomfortable. There were also some funny moments (people trying to get an interview/job in all sorts of outlandish ways) but some bits (mainly in regard to labels) came across as snobbish to me. I’m sure a watch from a discount store tells the time just as well as a designer one.

There are some very interesting parts about the demise of magazines with the rise of the internet. As a blogger (albeit a book one, not a fashion one), I was a bit offended – I have no desire to take over the London Review of Books (ha!) or even the review section of the local rag. Bloggers didn’t set up as direct opposition to magazines purposefully, it’s a labour of love for 99% of blogs. (Plus, nothing beats magazines for creating wishlists, looks and inspiration boards). The section on advertising and product placement was fascinating and did make me a bit more cynical as to which ‘products we love’ are loved by the accounts department or the staff themselves.

The gossipy, tell all nature of this book is what kept me reading, wondering if I was correct in my assumption that X character was really well known Y as well as the insights into the work behind the scenes. Other parts just didn’t work for me very well. I wonder if the book had been marketed as a sequel to The Vogue Factor (rather than fiction) if that would have changed my opinion. (Perhaps, but then possibly the stories the book contained wouldn’t have been as outlandish for fear of reprisal). I’d suggest borrowing this one from the library if you want to know more about the magazine industry both in its heyday and in the internet age.

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