Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Royal Review: Celebrate by Pippa Middleton

As the sister of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Pippa Middleton is in an unenviable situation. In many ways, she cannot win and it is unfortunate that to some, she will always be known as the only maid of honor to ever wear a flattering dress. Never judged on her own efforts, but on the media and public perception of her. Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends, is her attempt to change that.

Given her low profile prior to the royal wedding, Celebrate could be viewed as a premature effort. However, she's not the first person to jump on the bandwagon of her own notoriety nor will she be the last. To Pippa's credit, she acknowledges this in the introduction to Celebrate. She has the opportunity and she's taking advantage of it. By admitting this she makes it redundant for those who scoff at her efforts. Now who is being unoriginal?

Several reviews for this book have criticized Pippa for stating the obvious: 'ice goes great with drinks', 'a turkey at Christmas time is good for large gatherings'. Yes it's true, but let's be honest, even Martha Stewart falls back on 'Pumpkins add to the festive atmosphere of Halloween', 'Hearts make perfect Valentines' and 'Easter egg hunts are fun'. What Pippa does add to the field is her youth. Like her sister, she makes going the extra mile fashionable. Thus giving twenty-somethings options other than beer, wine, tortilla chips and brie cheese trays for their own parties.

Divided by seasons, Pippa presents crafts, recipes, nostalgic/traditional games and charming tidbits of trivia appropriate to the occasion. She offers small glimpses into how her family marked events like Easter and Mothers Day. While her tips for building bonfires may not apply to most of her readers,  her game instructions are occasionally hard to follow (Conker fights?) and hanging donuts from trees may be an attempt for the brave, her instructions for creating Christmas decorations and place settings using simple items can be for those willing to make the effort. Very reassuring for craft-challenged people like me.

With Celebrate, Pippa Middleton is not reinventing the wheel for entertaining. Instead her book is a fine attempt at reinterpreting it.

© Marilyn Braun 2012

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Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Thanks for a fair and honest review of this book. I get the feeling that most of the reviews that I've read in the English papers are incredibly biased. No matter what she did, they had the knives out. The reviews that I've read critizing her Burns Night Supper were particularly harsh, but my feeling is that she was talking to readers who have never hosted a Burns Night.

Marilyn Braun said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Yes, I think a lot of the reviews have been biased towards her. Not giving her a fair shot. I think it took a lot of chutzpah to go ahead with the book despite the legion of naysayers not willing to give her a chance at proving herself. She must have a very thick skin. I find it unfortunate that she isn't doing any interviews for the book, because, in a way, she's allowing the naysayers to win.

As I said, she is not reinventing the wheel with her tips. Some of them are obvious but she's just giving her own take on them in an accessible way for people who are not professional caterers or party planners.

I liked her description of Burns night, I've attended them in the past and while I may not know everything about the traditions, I've enjoyed the ritual of it. There is a certain elegance to her descriptions of various seasonal events or even just something simple like breakfast in bed on Mother's day. With her descriptions of her siblings sneaking upstairs with a tray of breakfast, it gives me a peak at the close-knit existence the Middleton's had.

Unknown said...

Nothing is confirmed yet! But we can hope I think if she had twins that would be fantastic! Who doesn't want double the royal trouble?

Marilyn Braun said...

The media is already going into overdrive with the pregnancy, I can't even begin to imagine what the reaction would be to twins.

Read an article today regarding twins that said Prince William would attend the birth and be able to vouch for which twin came out first to inherit the throne. That shouldn't even be a factor at the moment. When the time comes, I really don't think William or Kate will be concerned with that. Nor should they be.