When I picked up Dancing on Sloane Street I had visions of Girl, Interrupted. Perhaps because the author, English Golightly, is a former fashion model who says “Everything I write is true to life,” while also saying “Sophisticated Ignorance is my specialty,” so you’ve got to be flexible with this.
The book isn’t fluff, if that’s what I’ve led you to believe. It is a transcription from the author’s diary – one of a young fashion model, and it begins in medias re, so you’re into her life from page one. And, it’s set mostly in London (and New York), so there’s a very English twist and drama to it; all set in the 1990s.
If you ever wondered about the life of a fashion model (aside from being on a diet for life), Golightly hardly paints a pretty picture. She tempers her story in the first chapter with a look at Milan, Italy, which we’ve all been brought up to believe is wonderful: (my) apartment consisted of cockroaches, the odd transvestite hooker and eastern European girls living off baby food. And like the Triple A’s – athletes, authors, and actors – there’s an endless supply of rejections and humiliations, leaving you so dumbstruck that even when you do find work you still feel like you lost.
The Best Parts of Dancing on Sloane Street
There’s more to English Golightly’s story than the constant hunger for food and work. In fact, the whole quirky off-kilter story is a throwback to the ’90s and a time of growth for the fashion (model) industry and our protagonist. The story moves quickly and makes for an easy read at about 45K words.
There is no true through-line, it’s lightly plotted – a coming of age and realization story where all that glitters is not gold, and where English and her friend Kimmi work their way across the continents and across their minds to find that life imitates art.
The ladies lives may not have started with plans to become models, but they were what they were, and for all the pressures and ups and downs, they had an exciting life. And soon, it would change, because everyone grows up except Peter Pan.
As for you dear reader, if you have any interest in modeling, London, ladies, or the 90s – whether you missed them or forgot them, Dancing on Sloane Street is a fun read and just £2.99 on Kindle right now.