Liz Jones is pure Marmite: you either love her bone-achingly honest columns or you can’t stand them. But either way, you read them.
Her new book, the autobiographic Girl Least Likely To is a whirlwind insight into why Jones is who she is (she recently described herself as ‘Old, broke, overworked, penniless, depressed, lonely, barren, deaf, friendless, pension-less, in possession of cellulite and a post-menopausal beard’), as well as offering a vague insight into the world of journalism.
The youngest of seven children and born to loving but not-well-off parents, Jones’s desire to work in print began as a young teen, when she started reading her older sister’s magazines. It was a copy of Vogue that made her realise that she wanted to enter the glossy, seemingly unattainable world of high fashion and the trappings that came with it: the perfect body, the six-figure salary and the bulging wardrobe.
Thus began a career that saw her work as a sub-editor at Company, deputy editor of The Sunday Times’ Style magazine and, ultimately, editor of Marie Claire. After being fired from Marie Claire in circumstances that, to be honest, read as less than fair, she began freelancing and landed the infamous column in The Mail On Sunday‘s YOU magazine, as well as becoming a fashion editor for The Daily Mail. She’s not just front row at the international fashion shows – she is at the forefront of the fashion world, whether it be pioneering the end of airbrushing in the early 2000s or covering John Galliano’s racism trial earlier this year. She is both entranced and repulsed by what she sees.
Her career highs and lows are relayed with disarming honesty and played against the equally high and low points of her personal life. She is hospitalised with anorexia (the eating disorder still haunts her today), she feels let down by her friends, her family. She leaves London to live in the countryside with the animals she has always loved; she soon finds herself struggling with debt and terrified to answer the phone in case it is her accountant.
Jones’s story is one of infinite ups and downs. When something good happens – such as when she is made Editor of Marie Claire – her instant reaction is to doubt her ability and wonder what will go wrong. It’s a sad cycle and Jones’s black-and-white bluntness about her subject – whether it’s her desire to be thin, the way she spends money on clothes she doesn’t like, her feelings when her husband admits cheating on her – makes it all the more eye-popping.
But this is what Jones does best: pure confessional journalism. Gobble it up in one sitting – you won’t be able to put it down.