Glossed Over Book Club: Jean Godfrey-June's Free Gift with Purchase, The Merciful End
So, this Jean Godfrey-June book ? It goes on for an awful long time about lunches. Sometimes companies serve lavish midday meals at fancy restaurants in order to garner good press! Real shocker there. And there are about forty-seven explanations of why she hates having her picture taken. And then there are a billion pages—approximately—describing various levels of intrigue she faced during her tenure at Elle, which might have been interesting, except that every player is saddled with a cumbersome code name like “Above the Fray.” The French execs at the magazine try to use European photo shoots in the American edition, and Above the Fray tussles with Eminence Grise and the Playboy and the Fashionista, and, well, there’s a reason we don’t watch daytime soap operas.
We can barely get through the one page she pens in Lucky, so it was clearly expecting too much that we’d be entertained all the way through a 271-page book that consists entirely of poorly organized personal anecdotes and impossible-to-execute beauty tips. (We tried that concealer stripe, by the way. No dice.)
All we really wanted out of this book was dirt about Lucky and/or Kim France. And now that we've read every single page, some of them twice because they were so incomprehensible, we’ve compiled a list, based mostly on the book’s final chapter, of the details we gleaned. We hope that these small morsels of information will be enough to prevent all of you from undertaking the onerous task of reading Free Gift with Purchase.
1. Jean’s office at the magazine is “private-but-not-exactly-private.” We don’t know what that means either! Apparently, Jean is so confident in her descriptive abilities that she doesn’t feel the need to expound on this.
2. Speaking of nebulous descriptions:
If Kim uses the word perfect to describe someone, it’s not a good sign. “She’s overperfect!” Kim once said of an impeccable, extremely fashiony [agh!] staff member, who, incidentally, ejected herself early on. (There are plenty of superhot gals at Lucky, don’t get me wrong, by perfect I mean that smug, overly groomed, tucked-and-folded-scarf thing that some pretty girls feel enhances their attractiveness.)
3. In a departure from the magazine world’s status quo, the fashion department is “not mean.” What a ringing endorsement!
…we ripped through “bohemian” in the first year; “glamorous” and “amazing” are currently on the endangered list. “Fashionista” has been banned from the start.
5. Flattery will get you everywhere at Lucky.
Kim is smart smart smart and beautiful and successful (I know, it’s kissing up to the boss, but it’s true)...
6. We believe this claim is a blatant lie:
My test for any piece of writing I’m involved with is known around the office as the “Say this aloud to your smartest friend” test. Would the friend look at you as if you were crazy? Don’t write it that way, then.
7. Finally, Jean once attempted to wear a pair of mold-encrusted shoes to party. Which, presumably, is why she’s writing about makeup and not about fashion.
Next up in the Glossed Over book club? Falling Out of Fashion, written by Jane Pratt’s former assistant Karen Yampolsky, is the almost-true tale of the editor-in-chief of Sassy and Jane magazines. We don’t want to give too much away, but we can tell you this much: editorial wunderkind Jill White has an absolutely stellar assistant!