Holly Willoughby                                                                                        Century £20


On the opening page there’s a colour photo of Holly Willoughby in an awkward-looking pose, holding a scented candle (£65 from her recently launched Wylde Moon collection) on her outstretched palm while looking in the other direction. 

‘I want to share with you a personal ritual,’ she writes in italics beneath. 

It turns out that whenever she wants ‘to set an intention to connect with myself, pause for a moment and create a space that helps me to achieve my goals’, she likes to light a candle, because ‘there is endless possibility in the flicker of a flame’.

The book has a pleasant, breezy tone, but Holly’s (above) ‘reflections’ have a certain hand-me-down quality to them

The book has a pleasant, breezy tone, but Holly’s (above) ‘reflections’ have a certain hand-me-down quality to them

‘So before we begin,’ she goes on, ‘light a candle and take a deep breath… Now you’re ready to turn the page.’

The next page – which is actually the page opposite, which means that if you turn the page you’ll miss it – is headed ‘Hello!’ in fancy pink script. 

She goes on to explain that she wrote this book because ‘I wanted to understand what it means to be beautiful, in every sense of the word. I wanted to explore what it means to be a woman in this modern world and how I fit into the story.’ 

She swiftly adds, for those who worry about such things: ‘Just to be clear, whenever I reference men and women in this book, I mean anyone who has come to identify as a man or woman. 

‘I write this from the point of view of someone who has always identified as a woman, but I hope this book will feel relatable to all genders.’

Reflections, she says, is ‘all about being free to live as your truest self’, since ‘the greatest skill in life is to be able to tune in and listen to what it is you need and want’. Holly ends this opening section with the word ‘Enjoy!’, also in fancy pink script.

This book is essentially a self-help guide for celebrities. Its main message is to learn how to love yourself, follow your dreams and laugh at yourself.

These chapters are quite short with very strong titles, such as Guilt and Feminism. 

Holly was represented in 126 photos, approximately one per two pages.

The book has a pleasant, breezy tone, but Holly’s ‘reflections’ have a certain hand-me-down quality to them. One example: I was hoping that a chapter with Anger as the title might reveal something to me, but it didn’t.

‘We do need to be careful how we behave and speak to others when we are angry,’ she warns. Holly, thanks for this great tip! 

Anger, she reveals, ‘is a powerful emotion’ and ‘refusing to acknowledge anger when we feel it is unhelpful and takes us further away from our true selves’. 

Not only that, but ‘we might sometimes say something unkind that we don’t mean’. Who’d have guessed it? On the plus side: ‘Feeling anger can be a positive’ and ‘apologies can go a long way’.

Reflections, a book about celebrities, is surprisingly devoid of any personal revelations.

Holly Willoughby, unlike many publishers who rely on celebrity accounts to fill their books with harrowing stories of unhappy childhoods or marriages that ended in tragedy, is uncommonly reserved. 

She tells us that she is dyslexic, that she was shy as a child and that she is ‘a mass of contradictions’, but not much else.

She reveals in the Anger chapter that once she worked on an important project and that a colleague robbed her of her confidence telling her to do it differently. 

‘I could feel my anger pulsating through my body,’ she says, but she won’t reveal what the project was, or the identity of her inconsiderate colleague.

This makes it difficult for her to share personal anecdotes that lack colour. 

In her early years, she wrote about feeling detached and sad. ‘I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t depressed, it was just a feeling of being a little adrift.’ 

Clearly sensing the reader’s curiosity, she adds: ‘I’m not going to be detailing what triggered my detachment in this book… talking about it is a boundary that I’m not ready to cross.’

Although it’s true, there isn’t much to go on about the problem. It makes it hard to imagine how she will recover. 

When she hastily adds ‘That doesn’t mean that this book isn’t deeply personal’, most readers, however sympathetic to her desire for privacy, will probably find themselves thinking: ‘Oh yes it does!’

It is lacking in detail that the book becomes a flimsy mass of platitudinous humdrummery. It’s hard to say which of her aperçus is the most banal, but my top five would probably be: 

  1. ‘I think one of the biggest decisions you can make is making the decision to get married.’ 
  2. ‘I think it’s fair to say that most people have regrets.’ 
  3. ‘As we all know, confidence comes from within.’ 
  4. ‘Looking good on the outside doesn’t help us if we don’t feel good on the inside.’ 
  5. ‘Adolescence is the doorway to the next stage of life.’

Have you ever heard anyone argue the reverse? Have you ever heard anyone saying that getting married is a matter of little consequence, or that most people are as pleased as punch about everything they’ve ever done?

Willoughby puts her imperfections in contrast to glossy pictures of herself, which will undermine the authenticity of her claims. ‘Expecting perfection of yourself and others is a road to nowhere,’ she reflects on page 124. 

The photograph to the right, which takes up page 125 entirely, shows her perfectly styled hair and sitting in her dressing-room in a perfect fitting gown with an open side that reveals her beautiful legs.

Though she is keen to stress that ‘being able to accept yourself as you truly are is beauty’, she devotes the last 70 pages of her book to good old-fashioned tips about cosmetics. 

‘I have a wealth of beauty tips from my years in the make-up chair,’ she says, ‘and I want to pass on some of those secrets.’

She does her best to reassure the worldwide community of the ungorgeous that, hey, you’re as beautiful as you feel, and, yes, we’re all lovely in our own way. However, even with her best efforts to convey this message, there is often a completely different message.

‘When you see a close-up photograph of someone’s face and they have no visible texture at all, it’s because the photo has been airbrushed or a filter has been applied,’ she reassures us on page 230, ‘… my skin is definitely not perfect – I still get breakouts from time to time – but that’s just life.’ 

But opposite, there just happens to be a full-page close-up of her pretty face which, like all the other photos, has, as she would put it, ‘no visible texture at all’.

This book is clearly written with good intentions. ‘Most of all, love yourself,’ she advises us towards the end. Holly hopes to convey that everyone can be happy regardless of circumstances. A good lipstick, however, is an essential ingredient.

A section called Icons consists of photographs of the predictables – the Spice Girls, Dolly Parton, Helen Mirren. Joan Collins is one of these. 

‘I’ve been lucky enough to meet her a few times and she’s as fabulous in real life as you’d expect,’ writes Holly. ‘She knows exactly what works for her and what doesn’t – I think she’s probably an expert at applying make-up.’

These books were created for Christmas markets. If someone is out shopping and thinks that their relative enjoys watching Breakfast Television, they will be delighted to find a Holly Willoughby book from This Morning. 

And happy with it they may well be, though I suspect it’s more of a book for dipping into than reading.

‘Breathe… It’s beautiful out there,’ is the final sentence. Thanks for reminding us, it’s a good idea to take some time and ponder the wisdom. 

I think my favourite comes under the heading Tips For Special Events, and it goes like this: ‘Underwear should never be so tight as to make you uncomfortable.’