Book Review | Vanity Fair’s Women on Women

Book Review

I read A LOT. But I rarely read magazines. Mostly an article here or there if something catches my eye (probably on Twitter). And while I do occasionally read Vanity Fair articles, I don’t think I’ve ever read any of their profiles. Until now. Because I picked up their collection of profiles of great women, written by women, and read all 448 pages of it. So we can talk about it.

(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)


vanity fair's women on women

Looking back at the last thirty-five years of Vanity Fair stories on women, by women, with an introduction by the magazine’s editor in chief, Radhika Jones

Gail Sheehy on Hillary Clinton. Ingrid Sischy on Nicole Kidman. Jacqueline Woodson on Lena Waithe. Leslie Bennetts on Michelle Obama. And two Maureens (Orth and Dowd) on two Tinas (Turner and Fey). Vanity Fair‘sWomen on Women features thirty of the best profiles, essays, and columns on female subjects written by female contributors to the magazine over the past thirty-five years.

From the viewpoint of the female gaze come penetrating profiles on everyone from Gloria Steinem to Princess Diana to Whoopi Goldberg to essays on workplace sexual harassment (by Bethany McLean) to a post-#MeToo reassessment of the Clinton scandal (by Monica Lewinsky). Many of these pieces constitute the first draft of a larger cultural narrative. They tell a singular story about female icons and identity over the last four decades–and about the magazine as it has evolved under the editorial direction of Tina Brown, Graydon Carter, and now Radhika Jones, who has written a compelling introduction.

When Vanity Fair‘s inaugural editor, Frank Crowninshield, took the helm of the magazine in 1914, his mission statement declared, “We hereby announce ourselves as determined and bigoted feminists.” Under Jones’s leadership, Vanity Fair continues the publication’s proud tradition of highlighting women’s voices–and all the many ways they define our culture.(


While I do occasionally read magazine and news articles (on my phone when I’m bored at work), it’s not something I’m in the habit of doing. But I do really love reading about influential women. Because who doesn’t need more great women to look up to and emulate? So when I saw Vanity Fair’s Women on Women, a collection of profiles on amazing women like Gloria Steinem and Michelle Obama, I knew I had to read it.

I think this would be a great book to dip into when you’re in the mood. In the mood to read about Tina Turner or Lady Gaga? Pick up this book. Want to learn more about Meryl Streep or Princess Diana? They’re in here, too. This isn’t the kind of book you sit down and read all at once (which I, unfortunately, attempted). It’s the kind of book that’s easy to read in pieces, and would be great if you’re the type of reader who needs breaks in between reading other things.

As for the profiles themselves, some were better than others, but I did enjoy them all. My favorites were fairly unexpected, though. I went into this thinking I would love the profiles of Michelle Obama and Gloria Steinem and Hillary Clinton. And while I did enjoy those, the ones that made the biggest impression on me were the profiles of Barbara Bush and Frida Kahlo. I think it might be because I didn’t know very much about them, so I enjoyed learning about them even more. The profiles of Tina Fey, Julia Child, Elizabeth I, and Lady Gaga were also highlights for me.

If you want to learn more about influential women you may or may not know about, I think this is a great place to start. I enjoyed reading about the women I wasn’t as familiar with, and liked the fresh perspective on those I had read about previously.


★★★☆☆ – I enjoyed Vanity Fair’s Women on Women. I think the idea of a collection of articles written about women by women is pretty great, and I think I need to start paying more attention to Vanity Fair, because it was fun to read magazine articles that weren’t about politics or fashion.

Are you interested in Vanity Fair’s Women on Women? Which influential female would you be most excited to read about (whether or not they made it into this book)? Let me know in the comments!

Vanity Fair’s Women on Women will be available in bookstores starting October 29. You can preorder a copy on Amazon now.

To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and choose The Grace Year as one of your two free books.

This book was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may get a small commission for purchases made through this post.*

2 thoughts on “Book Review | Vanity Fair’s Women on Women

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