‘I am a ginger tom. I am a boy racer. I am a housewife. I am a pain in the arse.’
Working in Soho’s mad, bad Adland in the sexist 80s, Ella David is a rare beast – a woman in a man’s world.
When her lothario boss, Peter Richards, bored with his ball-clicker, demands something or someone new to play with, Ella finds herself battling more than just fat thighs. Faced with losing her job or sleeping with him, Ella turns to her friend, Adam Hart the one constant bright spot in her life.
Can love help her go from a girl in the firing line to a woman calling the shots?
Based on Joan’s own experiences as a copywriter in top London advertising agencies, this funny, fast-paced tale is set against a backdrop of Thatcher’s Britain where money trumped morals and lust was a must.
Set during the 80s, I Am Ella. Buy Me, gives a gloriously funny and at times, shocking, insight into what life was like for a young woman working in the then male-dominated industry of advertising.
Stuck working for her unbelievably sexist boss, Peter, Ella struggles to make her voice heard, and tiring of working on demeaning projects (such as pretending to be a cat) Ella feels there must be more to her career then she’s currently experiencing at advertising agency, CBA. Her ideas are dismissed and then stolen and she’s constantly threatened with being shown the door by Peter (unless they can come to a ‘little arrangement’…ick.) Ella is in a quandary. It’s the 80s, jobs are scarce and Ella has not only her own mortgage to pay, but she also supports her mum, feeling as though she owes it to her after her unhappy marriage to Ella’s father and the difficult years that followed.
Ella’s love life is not fairing any better, she has a serious patisserie addiction and is constantly told she had enormous thighs. Welcome to Ella’s world…
I feel I should issue a warning if you’re thinking of reading this book…You WILL laugh. And laugh. And laugh a bit more.
I Am Ella. Buy Me is one of the sharpest and wittiest books I have read in a while. Ella is a brilliant lead character; she’s feisty, smart and having grown accustomed to working in a ‘man’s world’ she gives as good as she gets. The dialogue between her and Peter will have you unattractively snorting with laughter and I love how she’s not afraid to stand up to him and unwilling to jump into bed with him just to further her career or get what she wants (as so many other women in this story seem to be.) However despite the ballsy front it soon becomes clear that Ella has a vulnerable side too as she starts dating wannabe rock star Tom, who she thinks she loves but is never quite sure. Plus she doesn’t know whether to believe half of what he says (could he REALLY have spent the night sleeping in a Photo-Me Booth…??)
Alongside the demands and difficulties at work and with her love life being so confusing, it’s no wonder Ella momentarily looses track of what’s important in life.
I loved the characterisation in this novel. Peter is the kind of man you’ll love to hate and he will make your toes curl, I found Tom difficult to suss out as I liked him at first but quickly changed my mind, then there’s the surprisingly nice Jill (who’d have thought it?) and two of my personal favourite characters, Wally the security guard at CBA, and Ella’s cake-loving friend Adam. Wally has got to be one of the sweetest characters, ever. He was adorable and I loved the relationship between him and Ella.
I kept forgetting this novel was set in the 80’s, then Ella would be clicking away on her typewriter and I’d suddenly think ‘oh yes, that’s right. We’re in the 80’s.’ I liked this aspect of the novel though, as it shows how much things and attitudes have changed (especially in the workplace.)
I Am Ella. Buy Me is a book you’ll sail through, desperate for Ella to succeed and for Peter to get his comeuppance. The way in which it is written makes it a book that not only is extremely funny, yet at times dark, but it also makes for a gripping and all-too-realistic read.
Joan Ellis is an extremely witty, talented writer and I love how the story is based on some of her real life experiences working for an advertising agency, giving us an exclusive glimpse into what that world was like…and the result is quite shocking.
Warm, funny, sad and true I Am Ella. Buy Me is a book that you definitely SHOULD buy.
Big thanks to Leah from Girls Love To Read for organising the I Am Ella. Buy Me blog tour & to Joan Ellis for supplying me with a copy of the book to read and review. ♥
Don’t forget to check out the other brilliant blogs taking part…
Advertising copywriter, comedy writer, performer, lecturer – Joan Ellis has been them all. With a full-time job in a top London advertising agency and a new baby, she did what any right-minded woman would’ve done and set up a comedy club. She even appeared on the same bill as Jo Brand. Once.
A career highlight was casting a black and white moggie as Humphrey Bogart for her award-winning cat food commercial. Other great performers who brought her words to life include Penelope Keith and Harry Enfield.
As a lecturer, Joan taught comedian Noel Fielding all he knows about advertising before encouraging him to showcase his creative talents on a wider stage.
Working for The Press Association, she tutored Wordsworth’s
great-grandson in the art of copywriting: Buy a host of golden daffodils and get a blue one, free!
Suffering from swine flu and sweating like a pig, she moved from London to the Isle of Wight where she lives on cream teas with her beloved husband, daughter and two cats.