I have finally made it into the Guardian newspaper, twice in a week. I wrote a blog about romantic literary heroes that don’t age, then appeared in a piece in today’s lifestyle section. Today’s article is not flattering (read it here if you can be bothered, it goes on a bit). The writer, someone I’ve never heard of called Zoe Williams, clearly loathes and detests me. This is not unusual in a Guardian writer. She says she is ‘amazed’ by me, calling me a ‘no-mark’. What’s that exactly? I can only assume that she is referring to my wrinkle-free complexion, something I am rather pleased about. She goes on to insist that she cannot believe how I managed to string out my observations about French women into one book, let alone two.
It was around here that I got confused. I know I write books with more regularity than most people have their eye-brows plucked, but can I really have missed one? What is this second book about French women?
It was then I twigged: Ms Williams is referring to the US edition of Two Lipsticks and a Lover, called All you need to be Impossibly French. How unfortunate. It is one thing writing a vehement attack on someone, but to get such a basic fact wrong is rather, well, sloppy.
Ms Williams has every right to refuse to take care of herself (as she so proudly states that she does) but she should really take more care in her research. Moreover, she is guilty of missing the point of my one book about Frenchwomen. It is not that I think that Frenchwomen are a superior race, nor do I think that English women should be condemned for not looking good. However, I do think that one can both look good and be intelligent; it is these two qualities that one should strive for. I said in the book that I thought that English women had a stronger sense of sisterhood and I would always rather go out with a group of them than a group of French women.
If Ms Williams had bothered to read one of the books – rather than thinking they were two separate books – she would have learnt this. But maybe she was too busy stroking her goatee to care!
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008