The Wrong Knickers – Bryony Gordon

Bryony Gordon’s memoir opens in an illegal Soho drinking den within which she’s considering the story she might tell her grandchildren of how her and their grandfather met. The candidate for future grandfather is a man called Josh who ‘attended both Oxford and Princeton and now he is going into the Foreign Office’. The setting might not be perfect but the man certainly sounds it and Gordon lets her mind run away with the lifestyle they might have.

‘Fancy a fuck?’ breathes Josh into my ear, pricking the bubble that contains my fantasy world. Granted, it isn’t the most romantic of proposals, but the fact that he is impossibly well spoken does serve to make this question sound rather alluring…The truth is, I don’t fancy a fuck…but I do fancy a cuddle. I do fancy spending the rest of my life with this man. And I believe that fucking him will greatly improve my chances of spending the rest of my life with him…

So Gordon goes back to his flat in which he has ‘a bookshelf that contains only four books’ and despite noting that she ‘should have left then’, she goes on to spend the night with him. A night that includes an incident with a packet of Lurpak which will leave you unable to buy butter for weeks and a pair of Agent Provocateur knickers which are the wrong knickers of the book’s title.

This opening sets the tone for a very funny, cringe inducing ride (pun intended) through Gordon’s twenties; a decade which includes couplings with unsuitable men, minging flats, cocaine, divorcing parents and a column on a national newspaper. Even the latter of which is not necessarily a good thing:

I am twenty-five years old, and I am being paid to go out and get pissed and write about it. My life could not be better if I was to shag Jake Gyllenhaal on a kingsized bed in a six-star hotel and have him feed me fish fingers and chips afterwards.

‘This is terrible news,’ says Chloe, when I tell her what has happened. ‘How could you possibly say that?’

‘Because, if we continue in this way, we’re going to look like Courtney Love within a year. And that’s if we’re lucky. If we’re unlucky, we’re going to look like Kurt Cobain after he’s been dug up.’

Gordon writes her escapades in a way which is engaging and endears her to the reader (I can even forgive her running home when she realises how grim her first bedsit is even though it casts her as the character Jarvis Cocker sings about in Pulp’s Common People). Her comments on marriage and people who say they’re living their life vicariously through their single friends had me punching the air in agreement. However, without spoiling anything, I will say that the ending left me torn. Perhaps a sequel is the answer.


Thanks to Headline for the review copy.

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