Didions, Dunnes, Books and Boobs

I love this photo of Joan Didion (below).

It was taken by her daughter Quintana and later became the subject of heated correspondence between a reviewer and Joan’s husband, John Dunne, when it appeared on her Democracy book jacket.

The reviewer felt not only Joan’s writing, but Joan’s boobs were open to discussion. Dunne did not agree.

Joan’s thoughts?

“It just shows someone standing in the water. It has terrific water and it has terrific clouds, and it makes me look relaxed and pleasant, as opposed to the intense or worried way I usually look in photographs.”

She liked it, pretty much, and did not care what people thought of it.

Here’s a great Vanity Fair piece about Joan, in case you are interested.

And a piece written by her brother-in-law Dominick about the death of his daughter, Dominique.


I’m learning a lot about myself as I read the Joan bio. Her life was so chaotic and disciplined, at the same time.

It’s super interesting to get an (albeit detached) glimpse into her life. I wish I was the sort of person that would sticky-note the pages, but I’m not, so I keep having to go back through the gazillion of pages to find the little bits I want to follow up again. I am annoying myself with this behaviour.

Sorry this post is about boobs and sticky notes, but what can you do?!

xx Pip




  1. I really enjoyed both her and her husband’s writing (he was a regular contributor to Vanity Fair’s pages). I once wrote them a note saying how much I liked his columns and I was really surprised to receive a hand-written note from them to say thanks! That really made my day for weeks afterwards.

    1. Sarah, that is amazing! I’ve been busily bidding on back issues of VF over the last few months. How delightful that they responded to you!!! Thanks for taking the time to comment. xx

  2. Susan, Mum to Molly

    Have you read The Year of Magical Thinking? Big glimpse into her life at an extraordinary time (the sudden death of her husband)…

    1. Yes! I read it a few years ago. It’s wonderful, isn’t it? xx

  3. I loooove Joan Didion, she has inspired me in my writing above all others, and mostly because of the way she admitted to her mental chaos. I totally love that pic of her – how hard did that reviewer have to look to be upset by her lovely boobs??!! Bah!

    1. It’s a common theme – dudes scrutinising womens’ bodies as though it’s open season, diminishing their work. Imagine if women did that to men! I highly recommend The Last Love Song (the Joan bio) if you want to find out more about JD. Perhaps you have read it already, even! x

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