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.

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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).

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