Most people will know Susannah Constantine as one half of the television and book duo Trinny and Susannah but I was in the United States when What Not To Wear aired so I opened the memoir Ready for Absolutely Nothing. know very little about her author. And, gosh, there’s quite a lot to know.
onstantine had the privilege of being raised, dividing her time between the family home in London and the house they considered their home, a large house on the Duke and Duchess of Rutland’s estate. Her parents sound like they’ve stepped out of the pages of Nancy Mitford’s books, but their information is nonlinear and patchy, which is both frustrating and confusing.
Constantine’s first boyfriend was David Linley, son of Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth. By the time she met David, her mother had succumbed to mental illness and alcoholism; and Princess Margaret, contrary to the public image, was a warm and motherly presence in her life.
After her long relationship with Linley ended, Constantine spent 18 months with Pakistani cricket great Imran Khan, knowing it would never last. She is now happily married to Sten Bertelsen for 27 years and the couple has three children.
On the surface, and in reality, Constantine led a glamorous life. She moves in elite circles, being one of the original Sloane Rangers and something of an “It Girl”. Her career in fashion went as planned. Oddly enough, Trinny, a friend from long before they were famous, is barely mentioned, but she is talked about affectionately.
While there are plenty of genuinely hilarious anecdotes about posh people, royalty, stars, and celebrities, the real meat of the memoir lies in the darker side of the author’s life.
Despite being the daughter of an alcoholic, Constantine spent years denying to herself that she too had a problem.
“I am not a violent, angry or depressed drunk so you could argue it doesn’t matter. (But) while everyone else is who they really are, I’m impersonating someone else, and my friends and family are in a relationship with that person rather than me… I’m there physically, not emotionally. I drink alcohol is the worst.”
It was only when a friend told her they couldn’t be with her while she was drinking that Constantine’s denial broke.
“I think I hated myself a lot. I put all my energy into making others like me. I want to be… unique… special, but there’s nothing unique or special about alcoholism. “
I enjoyed Ready for absolutely nothing like Constantine is very entertaining and a really good writer, with great use of phrases – and the insider gossip is superb.
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While she is very self-aware, this is the opposite of a “rich little poor girl”; I think she’s smarter and a better writer than she claims to be. Old habits are hard to die for and, while she’s unbelievably honest, I wish she had believed in herself to not need readers to like her and just to rip.
‘Ready for Absolutely Nothing’ by Susannah Constantine, Michael Joseph, €25
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/book-reviews/susannah-constantines-witty-memoir-is-big-on-gossip-but-fails-to-bare-all-42030028.html Susannah Constantine’s witty memoir is full of gossip but doesn’t show it all.