I have had this book for far too long – I downloaded it from NetGalley on 13 December 2017, so it’s older than any of the print books on my TBR. I was initially interested in it but then thought it might be dull, and kept skipping past it to more recent publications, trying to review them as they came out. Then another book blogger I follow (Rather Too Fond of Books) got round to reading her copy and reviewed it, and it sounded OK, so I went for it. And thoroughly enjoyed it, so there you go!

Covering an exciting decade in politics, celebrity, history and the media in America, this details the journey of the British editor and reviver of Tatler magazine and her journey through the labyrinthine politics of Condé Nast to be the feted and celebrated editor of Vanity Fair. It ends when her tenure there ends, although we find out what happened next, and seems to be a legitimate diary she kept at the time.

Brown states at the start that this is going to be filled more with starry excess than with social commentary, but it does chart variously the AIDS crisis, the change in political and social tone from the 80s to the 90s and the difficulty of sustaining two very high-powered careers and having a family of their own plus making sure her parents are looked after.

The book covers years when I was aware, so the names weren’t too distant for me and people were well-explained anyway. The introduction and epilogue gave a good framework to the diaries and explained the editing and publication process. She explains early on how a diarist doesn’t know what’s around the corner, while a memoir or history writer knows where the text is going in advance, although this does seem a little disingenuous, as she obviously shapes the material to some extent in the editing process, bringing out Donald Trump’s excess and dreadfulness and making sure Boris Johnson doesn’t come out too well, while presumably protecting some people.

Brown is very good on the sexism she encounters and the clear moment when she joins the “boys club” after negotiating a stellar new contract using hard-hitting tactics, but the detail all around is fascinating. She does share errors as well as triumphs and I was personally interested in how the transcript of an interview with Mrs Thatcher was used in a scandal around its publication. Fortunately, she does show awareness of the couple’s good fortune, as otherwise it would be a bit hard to care when they’re struggling to finance their second house … but a better read than expected, well-written and engaging.

Many thanks to Orion Publishing Group for making this book available to me via NetGalley in return for an honest review.