Franks, the public-relations entrepreneur whose driven personality inspired the character Edwina on the TV comedy Absolutely Fabulous, contributes to a growing New Age genre: the Disillusioned Successful Woman's Memoir. By the time she was 30, Franks had founded her own stunningly successful PR firm—and made it the best-known in the UK. Her agency is, at least in part, responsible for such omnipresent cultural detritus as the Spice Girls and Tommy Hilfiger. But after years in PR, she burned out—not only on the 20-hour days, but on the moral and spiritual emptiness of the work itself. Her marriage also fell apart, and she began to realize that all her adult life she had used work to avoid intimacy. She sold one of her enormous homes, and eventually her firm. Franks's quest for spiritual truth occupies a large part of the book and takes her all over the world—to an ecological community in Findhorn, Scotland, to sacred Celtic sites in Ireland and Wales, to India to worship with the Brahma Kamaris, and finally to Israel to confront her Jewish roots. Her musings on spirituality are not informative—and it's hard to take such a wealthy person's renunciation of materialism seriously, when her spiritual quest, involving as it does all this travel, sounds even more expensive than her '80s party lifestyle. Her political activism is impressive—Franks organized Britain's What Women Want festival, and traveled to Beijing for the UN Women's Conference, among other projects—but neither her analysis nor her description of any of it runs especially deep. The account of her work with the socially responsible business community (companies like the Body Shop and such organizations as Social Venture Network) unfortunately gets short shrift. Despite having been immortalized with such glorious absurdity on TV, Franks still doesn't seem entirely aware of how silly she can appear.
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