The Royal Book Club Returns.

Literature & nail polish, vol. 3

The first Royal Book Club of 2022 presents a selection of 10 recently read books, complete with brief reviews and ratings, FIY.

Once more, books are inexplicably paired with nail polish (etc.).

1. The Gift – Edith Eger

In one line or less: Self help book by someone who actually knows what they are talking about.
Tell me more: Written by trauma counsellor & Auswitz survivor Dr Edith Eger, this book has something to offer to those experiencing anxiety or trauma in their life, i.e. everyone. Written in an approachable style, it offers insight through simple stories coupled with nuggets of practical advice at the end of each chapter. Helpful and soothing, felt like returning to underline highlights as soon as I finished it.
I like it with: Essie Zest Has Yet To Come
The Queen’s Grade: 9
(commoner’s Grade: 10)


2. The Plot – Jean Hanff Korelitz

In one line or less: Rather hilarious mystery novel with amazing plot twist.
Tell me more: As per Stephen King’s blurb, insanely readable indeed. Labelled as a thriller / mystery novel, to me it is also sophisticated satire, exposing the workings of the literary world and human psychology in general. Very well-written &, similar to its actual plot, featuring an incredible plot twist.
I like it with: Dior Addict Lacquer Stick Dark Flower
The Queen’s Grade: 8
(commoner’s Grade: 9)


3. Is There Still Sex in the City? – Candace Bushnell

In one line or less: (Female) Mid-life(+) crisis confessional
Tell me more: I am as amazed as you are to find this book on my Top #3 but it spoke straight to my heart. Negotiating matters that are hard to put in words, let alone explain to others, reading this book made me feel understood and less alone. If you are a woman in your +/- 50s chances are you will relate. It stills only gets a 7 (not a literary masterpiece) but I am SO glad I read it.
I like it with: Essie Rock the Runway
The Queen’s Grade: 7
(commoner’s Grade: 5-10, depending on who reads this)


4. The Girl Before – JP Delaney

In one line or less: Psychological thriller that will hook you straight away.
Tell me more: Another unputdownable read by JP Delaney. The usuals apply: original plot, masterfully created characters, vividly illustrated everything (it’s like watching a movie, rather than reading a book), unpredictable twists, suspense through to the end. We want more.
I like it with: Essie Scarlet Starlet
The Queen’s Grade: 8
(commoner’s Grade: 10)


5. A Slow Fire Burning – Paula Hawkins

In one line or less: Mystery thriller with all the makings of a blockbuster movie.
Tell me more:
Not my favourite genre but stayed up reading it anyway purely because it is excellent in its kind. If you are into murder mysteries you need to buy it yesterday.
I like it with:
Essie Like It Loud
The Queen’s Grade:
commoner’s grade: 9)


6. My Body – Emily Ratajkowski

In one line or less: Half-entitled / half-endearing soul deposit -cum- exposé.
Tell me more: I only bought this one for a laugh but ended up genuinely enjoying it. Literary-wise it is neither challenging nor profound but it is a compelling read in its crude, unapologetic boldness. Balancing between delusional and entitled to downright pathetic and endearing, Ratajkowski’s radical sincerity is in any case brave and many women will relate to a good part of what she is writing. Also, the book doesn’t seem to be the work of a ghost writer (I am pretty sure there is a star editor involved though) and the author seems to have nailed her voice from the get-go. Kudos.
I like it with: Essie Worth the Tassel
The Queen’s Grade: 7
(commoner’s grade: 7)


7. Where the Grass Is Green – Lauren Weisberger

In one line or less: A literary lollipop
Tell me more: Something to read when you don’t feel like pretending to be a high power intellect. You will probably forget all about it as soon as you put it down but it will have kept you good company in the meantime. Ranks highly in its category (“women’s fun”) and I much enjoyed it. Best read by the pool / at the beach.
I like it with: Essie Swing of Things
The Queen’s Grade: 6
(commoner’s grade: 8)


8. Confessions of a Forty-Something F##k Up – Alexandra Potter

In one line or less: Simplistic story meant to inspire (???) anxious single women.
Tell me more: The title conned me into expecting something more interesting / fun. Instead, this is a textbook “chick lit” specimen (I don’t care this term is not woke enough – this is exactly what it is) with a largely predictable plot and the requisite happy end. Might have gotten a better rating had I read it during summer.
I like it with: Essie Bahama Mama
The Queen’s Grade: 5
(commoner’s grade: 7)


9. Middle England – Jonathan Coe

In one line or less: A novel about Brexit? Or something.
Tell me more: I was predisposed to enjoy it, wanted to like it, kept wishing to be surprised by it, ended up doing vertical reading to get it over with. I suppose some people may find it interesting but I just need to come to terms with the fact that Jonathan Coe doesn’t do it for me.
I like it with: Essie Take Me To Thread
The Queen’s Grade: 5
(commoner’s grade: 7)


10. No One Is Talking About This – Patricia Lockwood

In one line or less: “I will throw up random rantings people will pretend to understand in order to appear in touch with the times.”
Tell me more: Time to call BS on the Booker Prize AGAIN. I contemplated giving it a single point but decided to reward with +one for managing to attract all this unmerited attention. Despite my good intentions, I didn’t master the courage to finish it (last time this happened was over 20 years ago).
I like it with: Essie Fiji
The Queen’s Grade: 2
(commoner’s grade: 5 – still with a giant serving of pretence)



The commoner’s grade is what The Real Queen of Stuff imagines a commoner would grace said books with.

All images © The Real Queen of Stuff

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