Pippa Middletone has achieved the perfect-wife approach to life ... despite being unmarried.

Pippa Middletone has achieved the perfect-wife approach to life ... despite being unmarried. Photo: Benoit Tessier

Probably because I took delivery of Pippa Middleton’s new cook book yesterday (I didn’t ask for it), I’ve been thinking about one thing, and yes, it is time to get to the bottom of it. Being a wife. Is it a job, or simply another name for the same thing you were when you weren’t a wedded woman?

(I forgive you for wondering how Pippa Middleton prompted this. I forgive you also for thinking about Pippa Middleton’s... other accomplishments. When you’re done, allow me to explain...)

“Celebrate: A year of British festivities for families and friends” is the title of Ms Middleton’s hard-cover debut. Unsurprisingly, it is a beautiful book, and here is an excellent review of its contents. But while that author looked for Kate and Wills in the background of each image, I’m more concerned with the faces to the fore; namely Pippa’s face, and the face of whatever small child or handsome man she’s pictured nurturing at, cooking for, and generally wife-ing all over.

And I say wife-ing, because it seems to be exactly what this book is about; the business of being the perfect bride-to-be. A business around which a great industry has been built and a great many more dreams have sprung from. Kate may have had the princess wedding so many women hope of one day experiencing, but Pippa has achieved the perfect-wife approach to life. That she’s unmarried is of course besides the point – we all know now she could ‘do’ wife exceptionally well.

For there she is, on page 195, dancing with a mystery Scotsman on Burns Night, probably having already enjoyed the suggested after-supper poetry recitals washed down with “Whisky: The Water of Life” (beside the shot of their cosy jig, a pair of manly Scottish hands suggestively pour said water into cut crystal... Pippa may indeed be “in glorious faem” tonight). Earlier, on page 175, we saw her clad in a sparkly glitter-gown holding hands with another dashing gent and cheersing a party of pretty young things touting charged glasses of Champagne. If the accompanying text is anything to go by, they may have just played “Guess My Resolution” - and if I did, Dear Pippa, what might it be?

Possibly it might be the same as that for so many young and not-so-young women: To Become a Wife (note, not “to marry the love of my life”). Because, in this status-obsessed society, it strikes me how many ladies seek to be married simply to secure the title. Even as so many others rail against the idea of marriage all together.

I admit, I’ve joked with my girlfriends before about making an excellent ‘wife’ one day. We can cook, we like clean houses, we adore entertaining and we’re wonderfully romantic – what smashing homemakers we’d be! We’d compete with each other about who could furnish the best Christmas table, whose husband was most indebted to our domestic-goddessy skills – but isn’t that what women are wont to do? Especially when men are involved!

And usually, during these (usually cocktail-soaked) situations, I’d raise the story of how my aunty once showed me the very text which would be the key to our wife-ing success. She married an ambassador and was subsequently issued with a handbook on how to be the perfect diplomatic spouse. To wit, how to advance the domestic agenda through the domestic sphere (think graceful entertaining, with a competitive edge). Ever ambitious, I read it and thought: “My God, I’d be great at that”.

But now I’ve read Celebrate: A Year of British Festivities for Families and Friends. I’ve read it as a writer and thought, “I want... that book deal”. I’ve read it as a food reviewer and thought “I want... that classic kedgeree”. And I’ve read it as a woman and thought, “I want... that... life”.

What life is it exactly?

A wife’s life, perhaps.

Much of me hopes that is not the case. Not just because I don’t want to think being a wife makes you any better/different/more successful than not being one. But also because this is now, not the '70s, not the '50s, not anytime ever before when wife-ing really was the highest station a woman could hope for in life.

Yet I daresay I won’t be the only woman to read about what Pippa Middleton did next and think, “I want what she’s got”. Even if what she has is actually little more than a fabulous book designed to appeal to the still strong hope so many of us still harbour.

The simple desire to be the best Mrs Somebody she can be.

(And have a nice bum to boot). 

...Somebody tell me I'm wrong.

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*And no. I'm not planning on actually getting hitched any time soon.