Victoria Beckham's first foray into fashion writing is an enjoyable, readable guidebook about clothes, style and beauty, with an autobiographical element - written in a conversational style, it's peppered with anecdotes about Victoria's life, but doesn't become overwhelmed by them. There's enough personal detail to keep celebrity gossip enthusiasts happy, but the book is dominated by style advice, making it perfect for budding fashionistas. The fact that it's co-written with the excellent Hadley Freeman, of Vogue and the Guardian, lends the book an air of authority that's absent from similar celebrity tomes.
Anyone expecting to be told exactly what to wear will be disappointed - this is a collection of style tips and guidelines, providing ideas to draw inspiration from, rather than a set of stringent rules. It's cleverly written to appeal to a wide audience - yes, designer names are frequently namechecked, but high street alternatives are suggested for every item. The tone is friendly and witty, which makes the book easy to read and hard to put down - I had to ration the chapters in order to stop myself from devouring it all in one go!
The design is abosolutely gorgeous and very innovative - the layout and illustrations are beautiful. It would have been easy to fill a book like this with standard pictures of clothes, but it's packed with drawings and graphics, designers' preliminary sketches of outfits, and behind-the-scenes pictures of Victoria. There's also Ellen von Unwerth's stunning photographs of Victoria, which tie in with the themes of the chapters but work just as well in isolation, making this a perfect coffee-table book.
Admittedly, 'That Extra Half an Inch' isn't about to win any literary awards, but then, it isn't a book that should be taken too seriously; as Victoria herself states in the introduction, 'I have no qualifications to write this book other than a lifelong passion... [and] this book isn't my attempt to tell you what or what not to do'. I expect that many of the overly critical reviews written about this book have come from readers who dislike the woman herself - if you despise Mrs Beckham, it stands to reason that you're unlikely to enjoy the book, so just don't buy it. For the rest of us, it's a thoroughly likeable read, and great to dip in and out of when you need a bit of style inspiration.