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When the world tuned in to watch Kate Middleton marry Prince William, people were almost as fascinated by the bride's sister, Pippa Middleton, as they were by the newly minted Duchess of Cambridge. Now Pippa is coming out from under her sister's royal shadow—or perhaps using it to launch her own career as the Martha Stewart of England—with her first book, "Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends."
"It's a bit startling 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," Pippa Middleton writes in the introduction. "One day I might be able to make sense of this. In the meantime, I think it's fair to say that it has its upside and its downside."
Read on to learn more about Pippa's first book.
An excerpt from her book was published over the weekend in "You," a Sunday supplement from the British newspaper The Mail. (A second installment is slated for next weekend.) Though "Celebrate" isn't a memoir, the 400-page hardcover has plenty of pictures of a beaming Middleton holding trays of food, lighting candles, and playing party games with kids. It's being billed as "a comprehensive guide to home entertaining," with tips and tricks from Middleton's years of working in her family's party planning business, Party Pieces, and her job at Table Talk, a London-based events planning company.
But critics have made it clear that the pictures and personal stories, not the party advice, are what makes the book stand out.
"Many of the ideas may appear strikingly familiar to parents accustomed to throwing themed parties, and almost all can be found on the internet in some form," according to The Telegraph. "It's unclear whether or not she had help in sourcing the ideas or whether she employed the services of a ghost writer."
"To stop cakes going stale, she advises storing them in something called 'an airtight tin,' while hot drinks for picnics should be poured from flasks into 'mugs or paper cups,' " Jan Moir writes in a blistering review for The Daily Mail." "In between the 'simple dusting of cocoa powder' and the tips on how to hold a sparkler correctly, there are moments when I almost feel sorry for Pippa. Almost."
Tucked among the generic party ideas (like putting black plastic spiders on serving trays for Halloween) are the things readers are really looking for: Pippa's memories of growing up with her sister, Kate.
"She tells of childhood Hallowe'ens, where the Middletons would turn off all the lights in the house and the children would eat sugary treats by candlelight," reports The Daily Mail. "She writes: 'We feasted on creepy edible morsels, Hallowe'en-themed chocolates and spookily named concoctions, which often looked better than they tasted.' Pippa also recalls 'scary shadows and imaginary figures lurking in dark corners'."
Middleton earned about $650,000 for writing "Celebrate," but her U.S. publisher, Viking Press, says that she's won't be appearing in the U.S. to talk about it any time soon.
"Pippa is not doing anything for us," Lindsay Prevette, a spokeswoman for Viking Press, told The New York Daily News. "She is not coming here to do interviews and is not available for anything, unfortunately." Unnamed sources told The Daily News that Middleton has turned down multiple offers from U.S. media, including Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah, and Anderson Cooper, in order to avoid being asked about her sister's topless photo scandal.
"Celebrate" seems to go out of its way to avoid exploiting Middleton's ties to the royal family but, as Middleton herself acknowledges, ignoring the connection entirely would be impossible.
"I know many of you will pick up the book out of nothing more than curiosity," Middleton writes in the introduction. "I can assure you that it feels even stranger to me than it probably does to you to have seen so much written about me when I have done so little to paint a picture of myself. This is my first chance to do that and I've enjoyed every minute of it."
Here are a few other excerpts:
On "Bonfire Night": "The unique sights, sounds, smells and tastes make this festival a particularly evocative one. I remember the noise of the bells ringing at school as the effigy of Guy Fawkes we'd prepared earlier was carried out on a canvas stretcher, hoisted on to the huge bonfire and set alight. Then the revelry would begin. My school friends and I would all have sparklers we passed around, lighting one from another."
On entertaining: "This book is a useful and practical journey into British-themed occasions and I hope it offers welcome inspiration and ideas, most of which needn't leave you alarmingly out of pocket. Entertaining on any scale can be stressful and daunting so this is all about finding ways to manage and enjoy the process."
On the importance of family: "The nurturing of friendship, family and home feels more important than ever to me in a world that sometimes appears to be moving so fast that we forget what really matters."
On throwing a party for children: According to a report in Hello! online, "Celebrate" suggests that parents remove any precious breakables, put excess furniture elsewhere, get children to remove their shoes, make it clear what parts of the home are off-limits, make a sign explaining where the bathroom is, invite other parents to stay for a cup of tea or "even a glass of Prosecco," and never let the party go on for more than two hours.
On her sudden celebrity: "I certainly have opportunities many can only dream of, but in most ways I'm a typical girl in her 20s trying to forge a career and represent herself in what can sometimes seem rather strange circumstances. I am by nature an optimist so I tend to concentrate on the advantages. One of the most attractive has been the chance to publish 'Celebrate'."
— Lylah M. Alphonse
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