Here’s a reposted book review that was originally written for Epinions.com in 2011. It appears here as/is.
I love a good tell-all, especially when it comes to celebrities and their offspring. I don’t really care that much about Martha Stewart’s show. But I have seen plenty of evidence in the media that she’s a difficult person. So I have to admit rubbing my hands in glee when I learned that her daughter, Alexis Stewart, and Alexis Stewart’s former radio show partner, Jennifer Koppelman Hutt, had written a book called Whateverland: Learning to Live Here (2011). I had heard the book described as a “tell-all” about what it was like to have Martha Stewart as a mother, so that was what I was expecting.
As it turns out, this book is not really a tell-all about what it was like to grow up with Martha Stewart as a mom. It’s really a book consisting of anecdotes and short snippets about what Alexis Stewart and Jennifer Koppelman Hutt think about various aspects of living and loving. Interestingly enough, Stewart and Hutt appear to be diametrically opposed in just about every facet of life. And yet they’re apparently still friends.
These two forty something authors spent six years working together on a radio program. Both had privileged upbringings, though Stewart claims that Martha only lavished her when it suited her. She writes in one chapter that she never had the money to buy a crappy stereo, but tradition loving Martha Stewart would fork over $10,000 for a ball gown. Alexis Stewart comes across as difficult and bitchy, taking a great deal of personal pride in being painfully blunt and obnoxious. She’s very thin and takes a dim view of overweight people and anyone who eats meat. In all honestly, Alexis Stewart seems like an unhappy, unpleasant, narcissistic person. I will admit, however, that I did inwardly laugh at some of her caustic comments, which often have a ring of truth to them. Stewart reminds me a bit of one of my sisters, who can be hilarious in her nastiness.
Hutt, by contrast, was raised by parents involved in the entertainment industry. She grew up chubby. Her mother, who died of pancreatic cancer in her 60s, used to hassle Hutt about her weight. Hutt finally got svelte as an adult and comes across as warm and sincere. She seems very likeable, thoughtful, and kind and it’s amazing that she and Stewart have enough in common to sustain a friendship. I found myself drawn to her warmth and sincereity, even as I was often repelled by Stewart’s bitchiness.
This book includes a few photos. They are sprinkled throughout the book somewhat randomly and were quite clearly visible on my Kindle.
I’m of a mixed mind about Whateverland. It’s well-written and somewhat entertaining. It’s easy to read, mainly owing to the short snippets written alternately by Hutt and Stewart. I’m sure a lot of people will buy this book for Stewart’s take, but I actually enjoyed more of what Hutt had to say. Hutt seems like someone I would enjoy having as a friend, while Alexis Stewart comes across as selfish, cold, and neurotic. Some of Stewart’s revelations are interesting and funny… even though I don’t think I’d enjoy having her as an acquaintance. I actually doubt she has many real friends… unless she is very different in person than the way she comes across in this book.
Anyway, I will caution those who are tempted to buy this book to get the scoop on Martha to reconsider. If you want to read what Alexis Stewart and Jennifer Koppelman Hutt think about life, you will probably be happier with Whateverland. As for me, I enjoyed the book somewhat, even though it wasn’t really what I thought it was going to be. I give it three stars.
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