Pippa Middleton admits the global recognition she's received is 'a bit startling'. Photo: Reuters
Never before has so much been said about someone who says so little. Pippa Middleton — sister-in-law of the second-in-line to the throne, owner of the first bottom to be described as a national treasure — has written a book, and my what a book she has written.
Over an astonishing 416 pages, for which she is rumoured to have received an advance of £400,000 ($A620,800), La Middleton has delved into her family past to divulge how to make a lollipop-studded pumpkin and honey and mustard sausages. As well as cheese straws and tomato soup. Not forgetting the apple pies in pots, nor the marshmallows on sticks.
It would be easy to mock Celebrate: A Year of British Festivities for Family and Friends. It would be like ... well, if not shooting fish in a barrel, then cooking toad in a hole (Pippa has a recipe for this as well, which involves buying the sausages from "a local butcher" and then wrapping them in parma ham — fine if you live in the genteel environs of Bucklebury, but not so good if all you have is a Budgens on your doorstep).
The cover of Middleton's Celebrate: A Year of British Festivities for Family and Friends.
It would be easy to get sniffy about such twee pronouncements as: "Celebrate is structured around the seasonal cycle and focuses on tradition, ritual and rhythm, providing a glimmer of anticipation and hope — like that warm feeling on your back on the first sunny day of the year or spotting the first signs of spring." And it would be all too simple to be irritated by her suggestion that for Halloween, children could use pumpkins as bowling balls — which, when you see the price of pumpkins, is almost exactly the same as throwing money on the bonfire.
Indeed, the abiding feeling generated by Celebrate should be one of nausea. All those chunky-knit jumpers, all that soft-lighting, all that talk of "nurturing" and candles and "autumnal favourites". Just who does the girl think she is? The Queen of England? The sister of the future Queen of England? Her Royal flipping Hotness?
And yet when I look at her recipes, I do find them oddly comforting. I want to bake a devil's food cake in celebration of its unpretentiousness — "not too rich and stays moist for ages" — and raise a Bull Shot cocktail in her honour (the perfect Bull Shot, according to Pippa, is served with sausage rolls). If the world's most famous bottom can make blackberry butter, then I can too.
There appears to be no mention of Coronation Chicken, no obvious tacky culinary exploitation of her royal connections, and try as one might to spot the Duke and Duchess canoodling in the background of the shots, they are not there. The Duchess of York Pippa ain't — Buckingham Palace need not worry about any potential tabloid stings here.
It is self-deprecating — you get the sense that she wrote the book in a state of embarrassment. "It's a bit startling," announces Pippa in the introduction, "to achieve global recognition (if that's the right word) before the age of 30, on account of your sister, your brother-in-law and your bottom." That she went there — she mentioned her bottom! — is the most pleasing thing of all, because it shows that, actually, Pippa is far more than a fine pair of buttocks. She can laugh at herself, and others too: another endearing detail is the revelation that she listens to BBC Radio program Just a Minute (Nicholas Parsons and Pippa Middleton — now there's a coupling).
"I think it's fair to say that it has its upside and its downside," Pippa writes of her new-found fame. "I certainly have opportunities many can only dream of, but in most ways I'm a typical girl in her twenties trying to forge a career and represent herself in what can sometimes seem rather strange circumstances."
Of course, she isn't a typical girl, because typical girls don't have thousands of people tweeting about their bum, and nor do they get £400,000 advances for books on the flimsy premise of working for an events company. But what else was the poor girl supposed to do? Become a professional party girl? Stay at home playing conkers? So while this isn't going to frighten Nigella from the kitchen or send Delia to the cooking sherry, it is at least as sweetly inoffensive as her recipe for ginger cake.
Correction: The original version of this story referred to having an "IGA on your doorstep". It should have read a "Budgens" (which is an independent chain of UK supermarkets).