Table of Contents
“A fun and fantastic romp through the world of glamour as only a true insider can know. And only a true insider with the intelligence and empathy of Kathleen Baird-Murray could so entertainingly deal with the question we have been dying to ask . . . Has the world gone mad? Read it and see. I loved it.”
—Poppy King, creator of Lipstick Queen
“A fascinating subject for a novel . . . It really is rare for popular fiction to handle such an incendiary, controversial subject so well.” —Marian Keyes, international bestselling author of
Anybody Out There
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This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2008 by Kathleen Baird-Murray.
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Berkley trade paperback edition / June 2008
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Face value / Kathleen Baird-Murray. —Berkley trade paperback ed.
eISBN : 978-0-425-22145-7
1. Women journalists—Fiction. 2. Periodicals—Publishing—Fiction. 3. Fashion—Fiction.
4. Surgery, Plastic—Fiction. I. Title.
In memory of Maureen Baird-Murray, 1933-2005
And for Olly, Armand, and Emmanuelle Daniaud
Olly Daniaud, my husband, has been with me and this book since the beginning and beyond, and has supported me in so many ways. My dear friends Jennifer Hochman Hamm and Madeleine Burbidge made time to read the book in its very early stages and continually encouraged me. Jon de Prudhoe helped me focus, laughed at my jokes, and gave me margaritas in Santa Monica. (He also pretty much came up with the idea for the book in the first place, so you can blame him). Holly Ross, thank you for swapping seats with me on the flight out to Sarah and Pascal’s wedding when my screen was broken, then ploughing through three-hundred-odd pages of very rough first draft.
For technical information and historical research, thank you to Dr. Bernard G. Sarnat, Dr. Frank Kamer, and Dr. Raj Kanodia. A very special thank you to Irena Medavoy. Thanks also to everyone at
magazine who worked on the very first plastic surgery supplement. Caspar Hall helped me with art references; Sahmylle Portela contributed a smattering of Portuguese. For authentic New York trivia, I have Jeffrey Miller to thank, as well as Lauren Bentley. Fiona Wickham, my sister, helped me with details on news channels, and James Wickham, her husband, helped me decipher how the publishing industry worked. My brother, Rupert Baird-Murray, reminded me of some of the joys of a childhood in Maidstone, namely the wave machine at Larkfield Leisure Centre. His wife, my sister-in-law, Chloe Baird-Murray, has always listened, and is always helpful.
This book wouldn’t be here without two fabulous agents. Ali Gunn in London and Deborah Schneider in New York have been incredibly supportive.
More readers: Nikki Tibbles, who also lent me her cottage and took my kids out for the day so I could finish an edit; Lizzie Baird-Murray, Monica Gleeson, Andrew Hodge, Kathy Katz, Tony Mason, Paul McNeil, and Marilyn Petridean.
Michael Birt, for letting me use the author picture; Sean Gleason, Lucia Pica, and Pascal and Sarah Dangin, for fuelling my vanity, a huge thank you. Rosa, for not giving birth that day!
The team at Berkley, headed up by Susan Allison, have all been wonderful, but one person has been especially nice, lovely, and brilliant. Emily Beth Rapoport is highly talented and a true joy to work with. I have been very lucky to have her.
Loads of friends suggested titles, or helped in other ways: Bryan Adams, Frederique Andreani, Sugar Ansari, Harvey Bertram-Brown, Kate Chapple, Julietta Dexter, Michael Donovan, Jenny Dyson, Mischa Eligoloff, Jo Fox-Tutchener, Amy Gardner, Maria Garcia, Elise Garland, Tina Gaudoin, John Graham, Ally Green, Victoria Grew, Nick Hamm, George Hammer, Nicola Jeal, Anil Kapil, Peter and Sophie Kemp, Marcia Kilgore, Andrew King, Andra Levinson, Craig Lynn, Henny Manley, Harriet Mays-Powell, Anna McQueen, Simon Mills, Kay Montano, Danny Moynihan, John Powell, John Prothero, Ben Read, Amanda Ross, Vicki Russell, Claudia Savino, Richard Seymour, Lynn Taylor, Christine Walker, Sharon Walker, Kaja Reiff-Musgrove, Antonia Whyatt, Richard Williams.
“Write about what you know,” they say, and so I have drawn in part on my experiences traveling around the world interviewing plastic surgeons, working on magazines, even growing up in Maidstone. But I have nothing but respect for all the people I have met, and would like to state categorically that none of the characters in this book is meant to be a representation of anyone; it remains a work of fiction through and through.
Many people tell you that they’re your friend . . . Make sure that you’re receiving the signals they send . . . Better watch out for the skin deep.
—“Skin Deep,”The Stranglers
Model wears faded khaki green hipster boot-cuts by Topshop, two-inch muffin-top compulsory. Cord jacket by Oxfam, Fair Trade coffee stain optional.
Clogged mascara, worn around eyes and not on lashes, by Rimmel (possibly Revlon, label indecipherable, worn away with time).
Special cracked lip effect due to dehydration and loss of Chapstick, model’s own.
Sure Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant Roll-On, Unscented, three for two at Boots.
Kate Miller had a theory about celebrities. Assuming the twenty-first century survived long enough not to be wasted by global warming and global cooling (and she was one of the few who genuinely knew the difference), Kate figured it would be remembered for its obsession with the rich, famous, and wannabe rich and famous. Her best friend, Lise, and her mum, Darleen, were prime examples of a generation of women who aspired to strange badges of personal merit, which historians of the future would no doubt find themselves unable to rationalize: a haircut with the name of an actor’s girlfriend, or a large bottom that no one in the Northern Hemisphere would have desired five months previously.
Kate didn’t know or care about any of these so-called celebrity must-haves. At thirty-two years old, she wasn’t what you might call a looker, yet neither did she have any features ugly enough to make her interesting. Her dishwasher brown hair could have been the “before” model for an antifrizz hair serum, but at least it was compensated for by her clear skin and shining brown eyes. Her skinny lips were balanced by a rounded, button nose; her cheekbones, so flat they were practically concave, almost begged to have a little fat transferred from her square-but-round bottom, which in turn was neither flat enough to be impressively androgynous nor brazen enough to be an object of desire. It was topped by a midriff that peeked out a little too bravely over her low-cut jeans and didn’t seem to match her too-thin stick legs. Yet even though she was blissfully unaware of her physical flaws and plus-points (beyond knowing that she wasn’t going to ride on the looks ticket to get her through life), there were mysterious things at work that made her more attractive than the sum of her parts. She didn’t know it but her smile opened more doors for her than she gave it credit. Was it the gap between her teeth that had never been fixed, or the dimples that defied the not-there cheekbones as if saying, “Go on! Give it a go!
a little!”? Kate didn’t care. As long as she could roll out, day after day, in her foreign correspondent-inspired uniform of khaki green hipster boot-legs and what could have been a smart-but-casual cord jacket had she ever deigned to take it to the dry cleaner’s, and get on with the more important things in life, it was as if she was vaccinated against vanity. Instead she prided herself on being an anomaly in a sea of dunderheads for remaining defiantly immune to the mutual celeb-fan infatuation. But she knew, professionally speaking, that if the world was prepared to make fools of their sycophantic selves, fawning at the feet of the morally dispossessed, pandering to the lowest of the low, and worshipping at the altar of this cult of
, then as the senior reporter for
(there was no junior reporter, due to staff cuts, but they’d given her the title to make her feel better), then she would have to as well. She would have to fawn, and then write, so they could read.
And now she’d fawned, and she’d written, and they were reading, and the biggest surprise of all? It felt good. Damn good. Kate Miller stuck her feet up on her desk, leaned back in her chair, inhaled a postcelebrity cigarette, and allowed her face to stretch out in a wide, self-satisfied grin, safe in the knowledge that with the others down at the pub for lunch she was alone to indulge, to relive, reread, uninterrupted, her moment of glory, lying just a few feet away under her desk. A couple more puffs, and she sat up again, reaching down under the desk with one hand, rooting around in the recyclable carrier bag at her ankles. As she blindly negotiated her way between last month’s
magazine and a foil-wrapped cheese sandwich her mum had made her, trying to find that day’s copy she’d rolled up expressly for this moment, she could picture the blue one-hundred-and-forty-point typeface: