So I’ll be honest. I have no clue who Simon Doonan is. Maybe he’s more famous in England? (OK, I just did a Google image search and I was all OHHHHHHH! THAT guy!) And I’ll be honest about something else: I have no recollection of how this book came to be in my possession. But I read it nonetheless – and enjoyed it! Doonan’s memoir is a droll recap of some of the funnier and memorable snapshots of his family life and early adulthood.
I love his descriptions of people or scenes. I actually screenshotted one of the pages of the book and sent it to a friend and jokingly said I thought he had used me for a character sketch:
“She was a petite, badly preserved, bitter, thirty-something, exhausted white female. Though she looked tragically depressed, I can’t really comment with any conviction on her moods or feelings since she was profoundly unfriendly and showed no interest in becoming chummy with us.” OK, other than “petite” and “thirty-something,” he nailed it. I seriously might use that as my Facebook cover photo for a while.
Doonan is closer to my parents’ age, and so his stories reminded me of some of the tales that have been handed down from the post-WWII era, particularly from my mom’s side of the family, as she grew up in rural Pennsylvania. With ancient, eccentric relatives coming out the wazoo, both Doonan and my mom were rich with battle scars.
From his obsession with floor pillows to the birthday gift of a red decanter he HAD to have, Doonan has a unique aesthetic that helped him on his quest to find the Beautiful People – those mythical beings we see in magazines, living lives the rest of us only dream of.
This book was apparently made into a TV series – but it either never made it over the pond or it didn’t last very long. Either way, if you happen to find this book in your possession, as I did, you may as well give it a whirl.