Review: Alphabet Soup by Melissa Doyle
Allen & Unwin, RRP: $29.99
I think you’ll like this if you’re into:
-Celebrity ‘behind the scenes’ stories
-Melissa Doyle (if you already love her, you’ll love this!)
For more information visit Allen & Unwin
Melissa Doyle is best known to Australians as the co-host of Sunrise, where she sat alongside David ‘Kochie’ Koch for ten years’ worth of morning news and views. She has over 18 years of media experience under her belt and since leaving Sunrise continues to pop up regularly as the host of afternoon news bulletins and special event broadcasts. Her broad appeal stems from public perception of her as the TV-land equivalent of the ‘every woman’; and it’s this ‘normal’ Melissa, the working mum who just happens to be on TV, who voices Alphabet Soup.
Alphabet Soup runs through an A-Z of moments in Doyle’s life: some professional, but mostly personal. It is not an autobiography, as such, but something closer to a parenting blog, in book form, with each chapter covering a distinct topic. A for ‘Absent Notes’ sets the scene, with a story about the time Melissa missed her daughter’s ballet concert due to work commitments. Z for ‘Zzzzz’ covers nanna naps and the disappearance of Sunday morning sleep-ins once kids enter one’s life. I think many readers were hoping Doyle would dish the dirt on her Sunrise years in this book, but it is far from a celebrity tell-all. Tom Cruise and Hugh Jackman do make fleeting (favourable) appearances, but the bulk of Doyle’s vignettes focus on the ethics of children’s sports, head lice, the scourge of the yummy mummy and other topics more common to blogs or parenting guides than your average Who Weekly. Melissa obviously places great value in family – both in the sense of her marriage and children, and her extended family and friends – and in some ways this book is a celebration of the wider pit crew who’ve allowed her to race along in a full throttle media career.
Doyle has a reputation for being one of the nicest gals in Australian showbiz, and this book is most definitely nice. In fact, that’s probably my only criticism. Doyle is an intelligent, articulate woman who has been to some of the world’s most fascinating, impressive and controversial locales. She’s seen famines, cyclones and the Oscars’ red carpet – surely she must have some strong, informed opinions? But, if she does, she shares none of them in Alphabet Soup.
Don’t get me wrong – this is a really charming read. It’s well written, quite funny and creatively constructed. But everything from the working mum debate to the highs and lows of celebrity culture is handled with complete diplomacy. Doyle states at the outset that she’s not interested in firing up debate – especially not when it comes to criticising anyone else’s parenting choices – and that’s commendable. But I suppose I’d like to read a sequel in which the gloves come off and we learn more about the real, real Mel. This ‘real Mel’ just feels a little bit sanitised when I know she must have some incredible stories up her smart and stylish sleeves.
With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my review copy. All opinions are my own.