Picardie, Justine 1961-

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Picardie, Justine 1961-

PERSONAL:

Born 1961; married; children: two sons.

ADDRESSES:

Home—London, England.

CAREER:

Writer, journalist, editor, and novelist. Daily Telegraph, London, England, writer; Vogue, contributing editor. Has worked as a journalist for the Sunday Times, Independent, Observer, and Marie Claire. British Vogue, features editor; Observer magazine, editor.

WRITINGS:

(With Dorothy Wade) Heroin: Chasing the Dragon, Penguin (Harmondsworth, England), 1985.

(With Dorothy Wade) Music Man: Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic Records, and the Triumph of Rock ‘n’ Roll, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 1990, revised edition published as Atlantic and the Godfathers of Rock and Roll, Fourth Estate (London, England), 1993.

(With Ruth Picardie and Matt Seaton) Before I Say Goodbye, Penguin (London, England), 1998.

If the Spirit Moves You (memoir), Macmillan (London, England), 2001, published as If the Spirit Moves You: Life and Love after Death, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Wish I May, Picador (London, England), 2004.

Truth or Dare: A Book of Secrets Shared, Picador (London, England), 2004.

My Mother's Wedding Dress: The Life and Afterlife of Clothes, Bloomsbury Publishing (New York, NY), 2006.

Daphne (novel), Bloomsbury Publishing (New York, NY), 2007.

Also editor of Truth or Dare: A Book of Secrets Shared.

British Vogue, contributing editor and former features editor; Observer Magazine, former editor.

SIDELIGHTS:

Justine Picardie is an editor, journalist, and memoirist who works as a writer for the Daily Telegraph in London. Music Man: Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic Records, and the Triumph of Rock ‘n’ Roll, written with author Dorothy Wade, is a music business biography and expose of Atlantic Records cofounder and chief Ahmet Ertegun, who turned his record company into a powerful force in the music business. The authors relate Ertegun's early days as a rhythm-and-blues fan who spent considerable time in Harlem nightclubs and who foraged for recordings in record stores in Washington, DC. Atlantic's early cadre of performers reflected Ertegun's early tastes in music, showcasing performers such as Ray Charles, Ben E. King, and Aretha Franklin. In the rock ‘n’ roll days of the 1960s, however, Atlantic's themes changed with the times as they signed and promoted major white rock acts such as Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, and the Rolling Stones. Wade and Picardie recount a number of Ertegun's more famous deals, including his persistence in trying to sign Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. They also stress the executive's personal characteristics, noting that in an industry that defined the pursuit of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, Ertegun "is among a handful of people who have remained essentially decent," observed Publishers Weekly reviewer Genevieve Stuttaford.

A number of Picardie's later books deal with more personal matters, turning inward as reflective memoirs. If the Spirit Moves You relates Picardie's emotional devastation and attempts to move on in the year following the death of her beloved sister Ruth, stricken with breast cancer at age thirty-three. Picardie's book "is more than the story of one woman's bereavement," noted reviewer Harriet Griffey in the Financial Times. "It is also an extraordinary investigation into the numerous ways people attempt to come to terms with death, including the hunt for evidence of an afterlife." Inconsolable, wracked with searing grief and the unimaginable loss, Picardie finds she cannot let go of her departed sister, but instead considers ways that she may yet be able to contact her. Throughout the year chronicled in her memoir, Picardie visits a succession of psychics, mediums, spirit channelers, electronic voice phenomenon experts, New Age therapists, and others—some well meaning, others deliberate frauds—who offer the hope of contacting her sister in the unknown place where the dead go. Picardie's attempt to find her sister in the world of psychics and spiritualists does not appear desperate or silly; instead, noted June Sawyers in Booklist, she infuses her emotional search with a "poignancy and an honesty that make the reader believe her sadness." Picardie's memoir of grief and recovery is "a lament that at certain moments, for its intensity, can break your heart," observed a writer in Kirkus Reviews. A Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded that "this well-told tale is a deeply touching, intellectually captivating investigation into the elusive nature of love and death."

My Mother's Wedding Dress: The Life and Afterlife of Clothes is a "penetrating and absorbing book about the meaning of clothes in relation to their owners' memories and personal histories," observed Sandra Rothenberg in Library Journal. For Picardie, clothes have cultural and personal meaning, and individual outfits, pieces of jewelry, and single garments all serve to commemorate a significant personal event. Her ruminations construct a "sentimental journey through the clothes that signpost her memories of girlhood and womanhood," commented Liesl Schillinger in the New York Times. She remembers her first dress, a gossamer fairy costume sewn by her mother; a bright red dress she got at age eight from the Beatles' Apple shop, worn until it fell apart. She tells about a storied family heirloom, a ring that allegedly belonged to Charlotte Bronte, but which was stolen in a burglary. She again considers her much-missed sister Ruth, describing a long black velvet dress she bought after Ruth's death, but which she never wore. The wedding dress of the book's title was worn by her mother, pregnant with Picardie at the time, in her family-startling wedding to a Jewish academic. Picardie herself wore the dress years later while attending Cambridge, but inexplicably lost it. Booklist reviewer Barbara Jacobs remarked that Picardie's exploration into the meaning and continuity of clothing constitutes a "wondrous tribute to her sister—and to the feelings that clothes evoke."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Before I Say Goodbye, Penguin (London, England), 1998.

If the Spirit Moves You, Macmillan (London, England), 2001.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 2002, June Sawyers, review of If the Spirit Moves You: Life and Love after Death, p. 1647; April 15, 2006, Barbara Jacobs, review of My Mother's Wedding Dress: The Life and Afterlife of Clothes, p. 11.

Financial Times, September 29, 2001, Harriet Griffey, "Is There Anybody out There?," review of If the Spirit Moves You, p. 4.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of If the Spirit Moves You, p. 551.

Library Journal, June 1, 2002, Bette-Lee Fox, review of If the Spirit Moves You, p. 176; April 15, 2006, Sandra Rothenberg, review of My Mother's Wedding Dress, p. 74.

London Review of Books, January 5, 2006, Jenny Turner, "Special Frocks," review of My Mother's Wedding Dress.

New Statesman, November 22, 1985, Robert Del Quiaro, review of Heroin: Chasing the Dragon, p. 27; September 12, 2005, Rachel Cooke, "Loose Threads," review of My Mother's Wedding Dress, p. 53.

New York Times, June 4, 2006, Liesl Schillinger, "As Clothes Define You, Closets Must Be Defined," review of My Mother's Wedding Dress, p. ST11.

New York Times Book Review, August 12, 1990, Robert Christgau, "The Sound of Money," review of Music Man: Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic Records, and the Triumph of Rock ‘n’ Roll; October 6, 2002, Lauren F. Winner, "Psychic Pursuit," review of If the Spirit Moves You; June 25, 2006, Sarah Churchwell, "Stitches in Time," review of My Mother's Wedding Dress.

Publishers Weekly, February 9, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Music Man, p. 52; May 13, 2002, review of If the Spirit Moves You, p. 64.

Spectator, September 24, 2005, Vicki Woods, "The Wear and Tear of It All," review of My Mother's Wedding Dress, p. 65.

ONLINE

PopMatters,http://www.popmatters.com/ (January 11, 2005), Nikki Tranter, review of Truth or Dare: A Book of Secrets Shared.

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