book reviews

Repost: A review of Laid Bare: My story of love, fame, and survival, by Gail Porter

This is yet another reposted book review. I wrote this one in 2014, after having had the book suggested to me by a reader. The review is posted in its unedited form.

I just finished yet another e-book, this time by Scottish presenter Gail Porter.  I’m not sure what made me download this book.  I had never heard of Porter before I read her book, 2010’s Laid Bare, though she is apparently famous in Britain.  Porter is about my age, was born and raised near Edinburgh, and is known for being on Top of the Pops, a show I do remember from my early years in England.  She was also a well-known pin-up model for men’s magazines like GQ.  

Known for being bubbly and cheery, Porter had a good career in television, although no one knew that she was suffering from anorexia nervosa and bipolar disorder. She eventually married Toploader guitarist Dan Hipgrave and, against the odds, they had a daughter named Honey.  Though she adored her baby girl, marriage and motherhood apparently didn’t make Porter’s life perfect.  The issues with eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and cutting continued until she eventually landed in a hospital after overdosing on pills and vodka.  Then her hair fell out when she developed alopecia.

I just finished reading this book this morning.  Porter’s writing is chatty and conversational.  I got a kick out of the British slang, most of which I managed to understand, despite being a Yank.  And I did find her story quite compelling.  I felt compassion and empathy for her, knowing how difficult it is to suffer from mental illness and emotional distress.  I have never been bipolar, but I have suffered from depression.  I know how crazy that made me feel.  Adding to her problems were unsympathetic doctors and long waits for treatment owing to the backlog of patients using the National Health Service (NHS). 

I don’t really feel like the book was finished, though.  As much as I enjoyed reading it, it seems like there was more to Gail Porter’s story and readers are left hanging.  I did enjoy Porter’s pluck, though.  She’s been through a lot, despite her successes, and she’s handled her baldness with grace.  I wish her well and wish that her book were a little more complete.  I am a bit of a sucker for celebrity tell alls, especially when they involve dramatic struggles with illnesses.  Porter’s story is even more intriguing, since she’s British and I find reading about the British healthcare system kind of interesting.

Oddly enough, no one on has reviewed this.  Maybe I should check the British site to see if I’m alone in my thoughts that this book felt a bit incomplete…  Or perhaps my readers from the UK can “weigh in”…  ETA:  Just checked the British Amazon site and one person gave it three stars.  They said it “lacked substance”.  I think I agree.  This book felt rushed and despite being plenty long, didn’t really offer the “meat” I would have expected in a book about such serious subjects.  But it’s certainly not the worst book I’ve ever read.  I think I’d give it three stars too.

A BBC interview starring Gail Porter…

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