Publication Date: 8th August 2019
As many of you will already know, non-fiction is not my preferred genre. I’m much happier in a made up world than the real world! However, from time to time (and more this year than ever) I am tempted by a good non-fiction read, particularly an interesting memoir.
When I was asked if I wanted a copy of Head Shot by Victoria Nixon to review I said yes immediately. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, and it may come as a shock to some of you but…… I’m NOT a model……..I know, hard to believe right?! *ahem* HOWEVER I find the world of modelling fascinating.
I have always been a staunch fan of America’s Next Top Model (who doesn’t love seeing Tyra Banks lose her shit at some poor girl for not taking the process seriously I ask ya!?). So I knew that Victoria’s memoir would lure me in. This book not only gives us tantalising details of all the behind the camera gossip, it also tells of Victoria’s devastating family losses when both her beloved father and brother take their own lives.
The book kicks off with Victoria’s early childhood, details of her relationship with her parents and her older brother Nick, growing up in the northern mining town of Barnsley. Victoria is only in her early teens when her father, having run into some financial trouble relating to his car business and the downturn in trade, takes his own life at his car showroom. This hugely devastating event in Victoria’s life has such a profound effect on her and also ultimately brings her very close to her mother. I found the depiction of her relationship with her mother so lovely and engaging to read. They have some very touching and often humorous interactions. They really did have a very supportive and beautiful relationship and Victoria’s mother was a constant source of encouragement and strength for her, always so immensely proud of her achievements.
We follow Victoria’s early foray into the modelling world which at first doesn’t go to plan. Victoria then swiftly builds up skills and immerses herself in this new and exciting world, learning the tricks of the trade. She enters into some not too successful relationships with men, men who seem to have issues of their own be that with drugs or alcohol. And whilst this side of the lifestyle is only barely dabbled in by Victoria herself, it is a huge part of the life she lives and the world she finds herself in.
There are lots of little celebrity tit-bits of gossip in this book which I adored. We as readers get to hear about a world we would not ordinarily get the chance to. I recognised a lot of the names of various celebrities but even if I didn’t, I was still interested in the anecdotes Victoria tells about these people. Very often colourful characters, eccentric or exacting photographers and designers etc. Some of the stories are sad and touching others are quite humorous but always very engaging.
There is no doubt that Victoria is a very driven woman not only in her modelling career but with the ventures she undertakes after she quits modelling in the late 1970’s. She succeeds in pushing herself forwards, and being the best she can be in her career. When her brother Nick sadly takes his own life, Victoria finds herself even more driven and determined due to the need to block out the devastating losses and use her working life as a distraction. I cannot even begin to imagine the effect on someones life of not one, but two suicides in a close family unit, however, Victoria gives us a very honest look at what must have been extremely distressing times in her life.
Victoria has a real rollercoaster of a life. Super high highs and crushingly low lows but she retains a very unique and genuine northern sense of humour and a down to earth nature which endears her to everyone she meets (and also myself as a reader, being a northern girl aswell!) She makes some great friendships with her fellow models and has some eye opening life experiences, all taken onboard with an admirable resilience.
There are some amazing fashion shots of Victoria in the book nestled alongside some lovely poignant, precious family shots. It was very interesting to see the ever changing trends and hear the backstories behind some of the shots.
Victoria feels like a lady who you could sit down and have a no nonsense chinwag with and I am very happy that I had the chance to ‘meet’ her via this touching, funny, poignant memoir. With themes of ambition, love, loss, grief and friendship, Head Shot is a book I would very much recommend.
Thank you very much as always to Unbound for my review copy.
See you all soon.
Amanda – Bookish Chat x