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Book Review: The Wrong Knickers by Bryony Gordon

This is a book for anyone who’s felt lost, in the wrong life or the wrong knickers.

Bryony Gordon’s a Journalist for The Telegraph, this is her first memoir and it was released in 2014. It charts her journey through her twenties, like many of us she has a picture-perfect idea of how the decade is going to be – dream job, amazing flat, perfect boyfriend – what she gets is somewhat different. 

The subtitle “A decade of chaos” is bang on the money, our first introduction to her is when she’s having her first one-night stand with Josh, she’s imagined a whole future with him, he literally the morning after hands her the wrong knickers. The tone is set fairly early on, Bryony lives a hedonistic life style, there’s drug taking, a lot of alcohol, more one night stands, a series of grubby flats, a fling with Russel Brand, debt and some pretty rotten blokes, but throughout we’re given hints that actually Bryony feels like she’s living the wrong life.

I powered through this book in two sittings, despite the fact she constantly makes bad decisions, moves from one mess to another, and the times I wanted to get hold of her and say ‘enough now’, I really liked her and was constantly willing her to stand up for herself.

She’s come under fire over her want of a boyfriend, like it goes against feminism or something. I have a problem with this criticism, it is okay to want to share your life with someone, it’s okay for her to admit she feels lonely and actually she just wants to be loved. It doesn’t make her weak or an anti-feminist, it makes her human.

The wrong knickers anecdote – though cringey – shows how desperate Bryony is to please other people. There are countless stories where people (mostly men) ask her to do some pretty questionable things, there’s the guy who wants to snort coke of her boobs, which she goes along with despite the fact she’s found out he’s got a girlfriend. Her head is telling her to call him out and tell him where to go – she doesn’t, she doesn’t want to upset him.

Some of her friends aren’t much better, it’s like she’s been cast in role of the class clown, the party girl – they get her to tell the wrong knickers story at dinner parties – even though she admits she’s not sure if people are laughing with her or at her. At the heart of her wild days is just a young woman who’s incredibly lost and insecure, she’s perfected a role and game face to keep people from finding out the truth:

“What matters is that I am fun, I am out there, and I will almost always be the last woman standing at a party. If I’m bubbly and up all the time, nobody will ever know that deep down I am actually a bubbling cauldron of neuroses. Nobody will cotton on. Right? They’ll just think I’m fab and great to be around, right?”. Bryony Gordon

I have been cast as the party girl in the past, I have been known to be the last woman standing, like it’s a badge of an honour, it’s not a badge I want or have ever asked for. I’ve put myself into that role and played along on many occasions, this book made me question why I’d done that (I honestly don’t know). It did make me think about being laughed at rather than with. It made me think about how we can all be desperate to please people, about being bothered what people think of us and how we can lose ourselves in that mission to be liked. I guess, we all do it to extent, Bryony just took it to the extreme, I don’t think I know anyone THIS extreme. There’s more to Bryony than a good party, she might be a little wild but she’s intelligent, caring and kind too, she’s just unsure of herself. She just needs to learn to care for herself better and believe in herself. She needs to put herself first rather than worrying about upsetting or not being liked by others. It takes someone else to tell her she’s wonderful before she’ll even consider it to be true. 

I loved her style, her honesty and humour. If you’re a bit of prude or easily offended, then this probably isn’t the book for you. There’s some pretty cringe worthy, jaw dropping, wtf, scenes. 

It’s six years since this was released, she’s written other books that I’ve now downloaded, I’m looking forward to digging into them and finding out what happened next. She’s still a journalist and now an outspoken mental health campaigner, things worked out alright in the end, it just took her a few years in the wrong knickers to get there. 

radiosarahc View All

Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm

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