How to be Famous by Caitlin Moran is an enjoyable romp through Britpop London seen through the eyes of fearless music journalist Dolly Wilde.
Dolly’s move from Wolverhampton is complete and she is determined to embrace the new world of music, sex and friendship that is now outside her front door. This is the pre – internet London; full of drizzle, pints, cigarettes in restaurants and blistering gigs in tiny venues. This is also the London that was once a magnet for working class creatives who came together and made great art out the melting pot of the city’s influences. Dolly’s family, who featured prominently in preceding novel How to Build a Girl, pop up with joyful regularity, and are offset by a new cast of characters from best friend and guitar wielding feminist whirlwind Suzanne Banks, to indie record label exec Zee. For those hoping for a love story John Kite also re-emerges, but Moran doesn’t follow the traditional route of having Dolly pine at home for him while he is off conquering the music world. At heart How to be Famous is a love letter to fans and to the teenage girls that invest themselves in their musical heroes
Anyone who has read some of Moran’s journalism will recognise her in these pages and at the end there is a slight feeling of using fiction to right past wrongs while bringing a modern feminist light to bear on the past. Although perfectly good, it is unlikely that it would have been published if authored by anyone else, and if Moran has indeed set out to mimic Dickens in bringing social politics into people’s homes via the medium of fiction, she hasn’t quite managed to reach this goal with How to be Famous.
Moran is improving as a fiction writer book by book and her fans will not be disappointed by this latest offering. How to be Famous is an easy, bouncy read that takes the reader on an enjoyable romp through love, friendship, music and self – invention.
How to be Famous by Caitlin Moran (Harper, 2018)