A serious ‘chook’
Kathy Lette’s new novel is about a woman who tries to hire a prostitute for her autistic son. She almost did it for hers, she tells Catherine Nixey.
Kath,” Barnes replied. “As long as they say that you went down rather well.”
Lette has a lot of conversations like this, with people like that. It helps that she was married for 27 years to one of the best-known barristers in London, the human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson. (She and Robertson separated this year, which she doesn’t want to talk about except to say that he “is a loving, fabulous dad”.) Robertson is joint head and founder of the Doughty Street Chambers of which Amal Clooney is also a member. When Lette and Robertson met, he was going out with Nigella Lawson.
It sounds like a glitzy existence. The cover quotes on her book are from Fry, Nicole Kidman and Toksvig. She has a lot of starry friends. “I have a lot of daggy friends too,” she says. A lot of friends, then. Her writing style is cosy, confessional, female. Much like her interview style. As I am getting ready to ask the first question she gets in first. “No, I want to hear about you,” she says.
You don’t get where Lette is and sell three million books by being a sap. In her novels she can be acidic about the kind of “upper-class, Oxford-educated privileged white male who turns out to be a gangrenous-dicked troglodyte”. Her education was upset by becoming famous as a teenager, thanks to her novel Puberty Blues, which was made into a film. Today she describes herself as an autodidact (“a word she taught herself”, as the flyleaf of her book puts it).