About the Book
The Vanity Fair Diaries is the story of an Englishwoman barely out of her twenties who arrives in Manhattan on a mission. Summoned from London in hopes that she can save Condé Nast’s troubled new flagship Vanity Fair, Tina Brown is immediately plunged into the maelstrom of the competitive New York media world and the backstabbing rivalries at the court of the planet’s slickest, most glamour-focused magazine company. She survives the politics, the intrigue and the attempts to derail her by a simple stratagem: succeeding. In the face of rampant scepticism, she triumphantly reinvents a failing magazine.
Here are the inside stories of Vanity Fair scoops and covers that sold millions: the Reagan kiss, the meltdown of Princess Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles, the sensational Annie Leibovitz cover of a gloriously pregnant, naked Demi Moore. In the diary’s cinematic pages, the drama, comedy and struggle of running an ‘it’ magazine come to life. Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries is also a woman’s journey, of making a home in a new country and of the deep bonds with her husband, their prematurely born son and their daughter.
I grabbed The Vanity Fair Diaries from NetGalley when it was on read now almost a year ago but somehow I haven’t got around to reading it until now. I picked it up for non-fiction November last week and it was an enjoyable read.
The book is Tina Brown’s personal diaries from 1983 when she got the job as editor of Vanity Fair magazine until she moved on in 1992.
There are parts of this book that I really enjoyed. I loved finding out more about what it’s like to edit a magazine and how difficult it can be getting the right cover image that represents the pieces inside the magazine.
Tina Brown movingly captures what it must have been like living in New York in the 1980s at the height of the AIDS crisis. She doesn’t write at length about it but the frequent mentions of people she knows who have been diagnosed, or who have died is really shocking. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have lost so many people to one disease and in such a short amount of time.
The references to Donald Trump made for rueful reading, to know how he was thought of at various points during the 80s and now he’s president of the United States makes for interesting reading. There are other political figures referenced within the book that also make for interesting asides.
I also really enjoyed finding out more about how Brown juggled her work and her home life after she had her first child. She genuinely struggled to find balance and you can see her being pulled in two directions during her son’s early years. There is real honesty in these moments and it gave some balance to a book that is heavy on the celebrities and the gossip.
I think where I struggled a little with my enjoyment of the book is that, particularly in the earlier parts of the diary, I didn’t know who half of the people mentioned were. I kept putting the book down to look them up online. Once the book got to the later 80s and early 90s it was more my era and I knew who most of the people were and it became a much more fascinating read. This is down to my age though and not a fault of the book.
Overall I found this a really interesting and enjoyable book to dip in and out of and I do recommend it.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.
The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992 is out now and available here.