Books: Cover Stories

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The Independent Culture
MONDAY (INTERNATIONAL Women's Day) sees the publication of two talked-about books by talked-about women: Germaine Greer's The Whole Woman and La Lewinsky's Monica's Story, told with a little help from Andrew Morton, a man so used to hearing confessions one wonders why he doesn't enter the priesthood (though that would require secrecy). Both have high- profile tours, the Greer circus kicking off with a party at the British Library. Genuine invitees will be admitted only if they are wearing the lapel pin that adorns the cover: a Polynesian fertility symbol. Lewinsky (who told ABC's Barbara Walters that she at first thought history's most notorious stain was spinach souffle) steps out for a signing at Harrods. But how much more appropriate it would have been to have launched at Davidoff's, makers of awfully good cigars.

MEANWHILE, GERI Halliwell is putting the finishing touches to her memoir on her life as a Spice Girl, which agent Mark Lucas has shown to a handful of publishers. He is emphasising it's a serious book, claiming that there's more to Geri than meets the eye. The word is that it is quite well written, and all her own work. However, there is nervousness over whether a book by someone whose prime audience is pre-teen can sell enough copies to recoup a pounds 500,000 advance. Nobody is sure, but a decision is expected early next week and the hot money is on Michael Joseph, part of the Penguin Group, where publisher Tom Weldon is flourishing the company chequebook.

SO FAR, this is Beryl Bainbridge's year. On Tuesday, she collected the pounds 10,000 W H Smith Award for Master Georgie - her third bauble in as many weeks, although she stressed that "at my time of life I don't take these things too seriously." Always magnanimous, she said everyone on the shortlist would have made worthy winners. Presumably, Julian Barnes, who refused to attend unless he could be told he had definitely won, would have been less generous.

THE MODERN Library, in which Virago founder Carmen Callil and novelist Colm Toibin choose the best 200 novels in English since 1950, will be published on World Book Day. However, they have only been able to agree on 194. Readers are to be invited to nominate the last half-dozen for the paperback. Knowing Callil, it's bound to be a tease: she declared on Desert Island Discs she'd no idea that The Commitments had started life as a novel. Her next project? A study of Vichy France.

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