17/01/2008

Book Review: How To Walk in High Heels

This book is advertised as "Hilariously funny". Like almost every other book I've read that was described in this way, It Is Not. I sniggered once, and that was at a quote from Miss Piggy.

How To Walk in High Heels
is subtitled "The Girl's Guide to Everything", which is a bit of a lofty claim for a volume less than 500 pages long to make. The book is divided into sections, each focusing on a facet of modern life. Unfortunately, it doesn't start off well. The so-called 'Foreword' (written by John Galliano), is less than half a page long and is devoted entirely to extolling the virtues and style authority status of Ms. Morton.

The style advice that follows is really dull, pretty much all of it can be found elsewhere, and it's also really prescriptive. Morton insists that Brazilian waxes are part of basic grooming. Yes, basic grooming. Really. I will never, ever, EVER, EVER(!!!) have a "Brazilian", and I don't even shave my legs in winter, so she can take that advice and shove it up her hairless...yeah. The best style advice in the book is 'How to look like you've just stepped out of a salon', contributed by Sam McKnight. The most fun is the instruction on how to "Aisle Glide" - which is basically wearing high heels to the supermarket so that you can use the trolley to balance yourself.

After the dreary style advice section is over, it improves. The 'Being Socially Adept' section is pretty good. I like the short politics section and the instructions on how to play poker, chess, and bet are a nice touch. How To Walk In High Heels also briefly covers art appreciation (piece by Vivienne Westwood), etiquette, and has further sections on homes and gardens, and cooking. Anyone reading this blog is too technologically advanced for the "Tackling Your Technophobia" section. I skimmed over the house-buying and driving advice because I wouldn't be able to judge whether it was useful and adequate. The packing advice from Anya Hindmarch is quite good as well. In general though, the book features a lot of information that I would think most women would already know, or could learn from better sources. The best pieces of advice all come from other contributors, not Morton herself.

The instructions referred to in the books title - 'How To Walk In High Heels' - are very long and detailed. But they begin with the advice that you should buy designer shoes with high heels, particularly Manolo Blahniks, and don't take the reader's budget - or shoe size for that matter - into account.

For a great deal of the book the tone is relentlessly "posh" and Morton comes off as being an upper-class old-money type, but she also gives advice on what to do if you are broke and things to do to entertain yourself if you have no money. This didn't really sit well with me. How can the type of person who advocates travelling everywhere by taxi and relentlessly drops designer names as if they are personal friends - and some of them ARE - really know how to "cope with poverty"? The state of "poverty" she discusses only lasts a week and would be better and less offensively described as "being overdrawn".

Morton seems obsessed with marriage proposals. She keeps mentioning them and it's really irritating. At one point, she says "Marriage proposals: If its nine months and there's no action it's time to move on" and there is no indication that this is a joke. Whaaat? No offense intended to people who have married their partners within that amount of time, but I would imagine most people would never marry anyone after only nine months, let alone make that the deadline! I don't think comments about marriage proposals like this really belong in a book which is trying to be a modern guide to a stylish life.

I mentioned in a previous post that Morton comes down pretty hard on the idea that anyone would want to darn socks. As I said before, what is wrong with darning one's socks? Morton also advises women to avoid public transport and take taxis as often as possible, mostly because it is easier to wear high heels if you don't have to spend much time actually walking. In short, this book lacks any ethical or environmental consideration whatsoever. It was only published in 2005 so there isn't any excuse for it.

The book does have an index, and some of the quotes used are really good. The Miss Piggy one I sniggered at was 'Only time can heal your broken heart, just as only time can heal his broken arms and legs'. Brilliant.

I don't recommend you buy this book unless designer high-heeled shoes come in your size and you need to learn how to walk in them, or you'd like to read the short articles by the other contributors, which are almost all good. Even then it's not worth the cover price.

Check it out of your local library like I did, or if you're in the UK, get it for £3.75 from GreenMetropolis.

4 comments:

  1. I just read your review on BookMooch and came over here to read the rest. I think I agree with you almost entirely - I didn't think much to this book at, I felt obliged to finish but was not impressed... and to think it was on my wishlist too - why?? Oh well, have put it in my inventory - no doubt it'll be snapped up by one of the six other people whose wishlist it's on. Hurrah!

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  2. Hi Saffy - after reading this book I felt kind of like I should e-mail everyone who'd ever wishlisted it on any site to tell them they shouldn't bother! I've read better books of its type now, I'll be doing reviews of those in the future.

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