Though deeply personal and confessional in part (it touches on how she was forced to leave home as a teenager after a sexual assault incident) the book is crammed with anecdotes of life with the rich and famous, from Barry Humphries (who gave her away at her wedding) and David Bowie to the Hollywood elite of Sidney Poitier and Frank Sinatra.
What is particularly gossip worthy is her time spent running with then royal rat pack of Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Prince Andrew and Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson. Here, she describes the time she organised Fergie’s hens’ night, convincing fellow partygoers Princess Diana and Renata John (then wife of Elton John) to dress up as policewomen to avoid being recognised:
“In the spirit of having a girls’ lark, we escaped the protection police and piled uncomfortably into my Range Rover, with Diana squeezed into the baby seat. Just as I was about to pull away from the kerb, a large angry man reached into the car and put an arresting hand on my steering wheel. It was one of the royal policemen who told me in no uncertain terms I was doing something I shouldn’t.
“Eventually, we piled into the back of a police van and made our way to Berkeley Square. Diana jumped out and began directing traffic (yes, a considerable amount of champagne had been imbibed at this point).
“We then ducked into Annabel’s nightclub, where a bunch of Daily Mail journalists were having a party. Ironically, they didn’t recognise us, but the manager of the club thought we were a bunch of strip-o-gram girls and tried to chuck us out. We raced off to Buckingham Palace. Poor Sarah got stuck trying to climb through a barrier and we had to pull her out.
“Then Diana and Sarah started taunting the guards on duty by dangling their world-famous engagement rings (Diana’s was diamond and sapphire, Sarah’s a large ruby) under their noses and chanting, ‘Guess who we are!’
“The drama increased when Prince Andrew came racing towards the palace gates in his Jaguar. We continued to play policewomen – well we tried to be calm and authoritative and refuse him entry – but Diana was so excited she kept laughing and bouncing up and down. Finally he realised something was up and roared off in the other direction. ‘You know how I knew?’ he said later. ‘I recognised Diana’s jump.’’’
Though shamelessly name-dropping in parts (which we loved!), it’s also a great romp of a read about one woman’s fearless take on living large and with authenticity, written in an original mini-therapy session style.The Varnished Untruth: My Story by Pamela Stephenson (Simon & Schuster, $29.99, paperback; $17.99, ebook) is available from today.