The Wrong Knickers by Bryony Gordon - book review: 'Frank and funny brief encounters outshine Bridget'


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The Independent Culture

If last year's latest Bridget Jones offering was something of a disappointment, then Bryony Gordon's memoir will remedy any unresolved chic-lit frustration. In candid and touching fashion, Gordon recounts her disastrous twenties as she veers from one screw-up headlong into another. From allowing one man to (unsuccessfully) snort cocaine off her breasts to having an affair with another, the beauty of these memoirs lies in Gordon's unflinching honesty. She makes mistakes; she is insecure; she wants to please others ad nauseam.

She even goes so far so as to pretend that she is lactose intolerant in order to avoid having her nether regions smothered in butter before a sexual encounter. Instead of simply telling her one-night-stand that this is one kink too far – not to mention unhygienic – she concocts this ingenious excuse.

Much like Lena Dunham, the creator of HBO's Girls or Caitlin Moran, Gordon is part of a new generation of female writers recounting their experiences of life and love. Gordon presents a fresh take on the genre and unlike Bridget Jones, she is far less glamorous. Gordon is a child of the boom period living in austerity Britain, surviving on packets of crisps and juggling with pay-day loans.

While the prose is unremarkable, the conversational style pulls readers in. It is one long anecdote, as if Gordon is drunkenly regaling us with her sexcapades and misadventures at a supper – not dinner – party. While in the background her thirty-something self is always chiding and tutting away.

But there is some inconsistency. Gordon fails to mention anything about her career apart from not getting paid enough. Judging by the publication of this book and surviving several rounds of redundancies, she is a successful Telegraph journalist. It is a pity that she glosses over her admirable career and focuses on her foibles.

But there is a bigger, more perplexing question that Gordon's memoir poses: why are women still as men-obsessed as ever and lacking in confidence? Bridget Jones was over a decade ago and yet The Wrong Knickers is as contemporary as it gets, complete with references to the Kardashians and Facebook stalking.

In an age where Beyoncé champions female empowerment through anthems like "Single Ladies" and "Run the World (Girls)", why are women stuck in a vicious cycle of self-loathing?

Have we learnt nothing from Bridget? Or is this just a rite of passage that all women have to go through? As to the title of the book, it refers to a man handing Gordon another woman's (far more sexy and expensive) knickers the morning after a one-night-stand.