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The purpose of If Only (Delacorte, $12.95), Geri Halliwell’s rag-to-riches autobiography, seems three-fold: 1) To verify that Halliwell is indeed 27, and not anywhere from 29 to 36, as reported elsewhere, 2) to prove she was the creative force behind the Spice Girls, and 3) to make sure fans still care about her now that she’s struck off on her own. While Halliwell’s efforts with the first two objectives are dodgy at best, it’s her success with the third of that makes the book something of an entertaining read.
Make no mistake, If Only takes saccharine prose to new heights (depts.?). In one chapter, Halliwell (or a cliché-prone ghost writer) discusses the merits of each Spice Girl brought to the group, writing “What did I am bring to the party? I was the flame-haired live wire with a mad imagination and never-ending supply of ideas.” Jacqueline Susann couldn’t have said it better herself. At other times, it sounds like every idea of the band ever had, from song lyrics to costumes and music video concepts, sprang fully-formed from Halliwell’s well-coiffed head.
Afraid to ruffle any feathers, Halliwell has only pleasant things to say about everyone she’s ever met – a particularly unknowing habit when she discusses her controversial 1998 departure from Planet Spice. Instead of giving readers the juicy tales of infighting and jealousy they’re looking for, the book makes it sound like Halliwell woke up one day and just decided to go off on her own. The only person she takes to task is herself, recounting her lower-working class background in Watford or describing belts of low self-esteem, depression, and bulimia. It’s these unguarded moments – as when old nudie photos Sunday resurface – that the real Geri Halliwell emerges. The rest of the time, it appears Ginger Spice has the reigns.