A Virgin’s Guide to Everything by Lauren McCutcheon

A   Virgin's Guide to Everything by Lauren McCutcheon

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Trade, 376 pages, 2005

Rating: 8/10

Reason for Reading: Like most people, there are always things I’m putting off doing ‘until I know enough to do it right.’

Synopsis: Has there ever been something you wanted to do – eating sushi, getting a massage, going to a foreign country – but you pushed the idea aside for fear of looking stupid? McCutcheon has assembled a group of women that are experts in their fields to play big sister and talk you through ten areas of life (entertaining; health & fitness; spirits & sustenance; dating; travel; work; the great outdoors; art & culture; fashion; money) where you might want a little help.

Why you should read this book: Well, we’re finishing up with February – does that mean you’ve already dropped your New Year’s resolution to do new and amazing things in 2006? Well, come on, McCutcheon and her assembled group of experts are holding out a welcoming hand, so give something new a whirl! All the information you need to get through a new situation gracefully is included – but not so much that it would take away some of the thrill. The tone is very encouraging and friendly, and there’s certainly no reason to feel bad if you haven’t tried anything, as there’s a very good reason McCutcheon has such a large crew of experts – we can’t all know everything, but A Virgin’s Guide will make you want to dive into something new, secure with the knowledge that nothing really bad is likely to go wrong.

Why you should avoid this book: Two words: Pace yourself. If you dive right in to everything McCutcheon suggests is worth trying, you’ll probably discover that your credit card company likes you a lot less when you can’t even cover the minimum monthly payments. Considering the age of her target readers, McCutcheon could have made more inclusions of how to do fabulous things for fabulously cheap prices. There’s also a lack of build-up to some things – it’s quite the mental leap from eating at chain restaurants to calling up the four-star restaurant The French Laundry looking for reservations.

Opening paragraph:

I always wanted to be a Hepburn. It never really mattered which one. Glamorous like Audrey. Sporty like Kate. Breakfasting at Tiffany’s, like Audrey. Woman of the Year, like Kate. Instead, I ended up as the world’s oldest virgin. My sex life aside, it seemed like I was the only girl in town who had never had a bikini wax, gone out for sushi, started a stock portfolio, or been to the opera.

Fabulous quotes:

“You have to have some kind of standards, or you’re going to spend twenty-four hours a day on the system screening people out,” says Suzanne. “Originally, I would try not to pay attention to the photos because I thought that’s really judgemental, I’ve got to look beyond pictures. Then I realized it’s OK to look at pictures. It’s OK to screen people out. This is my potential mate for life. So I stopped feeling guilty about eliminating guys because of their pictures.”
Still, profiles got her complete attention. “So many guys are unable to write in anything but the police report style: ‘I”m a single white male, five eleven, brown hair, green eyes.’ That’s all in the statistics, anyway. So that shows they made no effort.”

And you have at it. Scanning, grabbing, running to a communal dressing room – or simply stripping down to your skivvies right there in the middle of the sales floor – you eyeball other shoppers’ unattended piles of cashmere, leather, and silk and ask yourself, Would it be wrong to shanghai that lady’s stash?
Welcome to the sample sale, shopping’s most competitive sport, the equivalent of a forgotten game show’s glass chamber of blowing money, retail’s version of a heaven and hell party. The bargains, of course, are the heaven. The rest, however, can be hell.

Also recommended: The Fabulous Girl’s Code Red: a Guide to Grace Under Pressure by Kim Izzo and Ceri Marsh; The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum by Kim Izzo and Ceri Marsh; 2do Before I Die: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to the Rest of Your Life by Chris Day and Michael Ogden.

Also by this author: The Right Way: Navigate the Minefield of Modern Manners.

Author’s website: virginsguide.com

Fun tidbit: Check out McCutcheon’s website for all kinds of fun: expert tips and info on everything from entertaining and fashion to dating, travel and money; author news and updates; the latest fashion must-haves; the chance to network with big-sister experts; find Virgin merchandise; and subscribe to the Virgin newsletter.

Would I read more by this author? Yes, should more be on the way.

© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007

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