This article is taken from the March 2021 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering three issue for just £5.
It is only 8.10 am in the upstairs study of the neat little townhouse on Putney Hill, but Bunty Malone — real name Katherine Boggis — has been hard at work since a quarter to seven. In that time, she has swapped emails with half-a-dozen book-world bloggers, updated her Facebook page, sent several tweets scampering around cyberspace and written two-thirds of an article for the Daily Mail called “Fitness boot camps might sound like hell — but you’ll love them!” Just now she is enjoying a cup of Lapsang Souchong, listening to the front door slam as Denise, the nanny, bustles the twins off to school and contemplating a further assault on her current novel, the provisionally entitled Cruising with the Bitchpack.
In her mid-forties now, plump, animated and lavishly dressed, Bunty is a 20-year veteran of the literary scene. Before she started writing books she worked on the Sunday Times Style Section interviewing supermodels and celebrity hairdressers. But Bunty was an ambitious girl, itching to leave the world of Top Ten Designer handbags and Kardashian boudoirs behind her, and before very long she had an agent (the “brilliant” Shirley at Tender & Mainprice) a publisher (the “fantastic” Allegra at Rosencrantz & Guildenstern) and a contract to write what became her first novel, The Witches of Kensington High Street.
Ten years ago Bunty’s novels had heroines with names like Minty Maltravers and Anastasia Ashburton. They worked at the V&A, lived in riotous flat-shares in Notting Hill Gate and were wondering whether or not to junk highly eligible venture capitalist Simon for roguish art-dealing Viktor. Just lately, though, a more reflective tone has entered her work. Serafina in The Girl Who Said Maybe meets her hunky new boyfriend teaching English to Syrian refugees, while Josie in Where Have All the Good Men Gone? is a parliamentary research assistant affianced to a Labour MP.
It is 8.25 now, and Bunty decides to put aside Cruising with the Bitchpack to intervene in a Twitter controversy about home-baking (“Vital to pre-heat the oven” she assures her 27,000 followers) and sends the fantastic Allegra an email complaining about her assistant’s failure to have a taxi waiting outside the Cosy Corner bookshop in Newbury at the end of last week’s signing. Industry insiders usually agree that Bunty has another three years at the top of her profession before the books become too stereotyped to be borne and the punters move on.
Meanwhile, she continues to have a wonderful time appearing on Loose Women, writing newspaper articles about childcare and enjoying the unqualified support of her investment banker husband Jeremy — a loyal but rather unimaginative man who has been known to tell colleagues that it’s “like being married to one of the Brontës”.
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