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‘Anon Pls.’ by Deuxmoi, review: Fun – but Instagram’s favourite gossip shouldn’t ditch the day job

The i 11/17/2022 Gwendolyn Smith

The shadowy gossip account @deuxmoi began its life on Instagram in 2013, sharing anecdotes about actors, singers and socialites to a select group of online aficionados. Now it boasts 1.7 million followers (including Kim Kardashian, who recently referred to @deuxmoi as “the bible”), and public appetite for its nuggets of insight has been growing for years. Less certain was whether low-stakes celeb gossip would translate well to literature – but judging from this debut novel from the account’s creator, it makes for a fun (if flawed) book.

Written with the help of author Jessica Goodman, Anon Pls. is explicitly based on @deuxmoi’s experience of setting up a digital gossip mill. Think Gossip Girl meets The Devil Wears Prada, with a dash of the intrigue and scandal that have kept the still-anonymous @deuxmoi in business.

Anon Pls. follows beleaguered stylist’s assistant Cricket Lopez as her side project @deuxmoi gains momentum, eventually impinging on both her personal and professional lives.

Despite being ostensibly rooted in reality, Anon Pls.’s characters are cut straight from the Hollywood handbook: there’s Cricket’s sadistic boss Sasha; her ride-or-die besties Victoria and Leon, delivering wry quips and po-faced interventions as required (Victoria: “Be honest: Do you think your obsession with the account affected your job performance in LA?”); and Ollie, the love interest who promises to turn Cricket’s life around before seeming to disappoint her.

The anonymous social media celebrity gossip account DeuxMoi has published a novel. (Photo: William Morrow/AP) © Provided by The i The anonymous social media celebrity gossip account DeuxMoi has published a novel. (Photo: William Morrow/AP)

While predictable, Anon Pls. is also confusing. One of the book’s points of tension is supposed to come from Cricket’s ambition getting in the way of her relationships (Leon: “Do you have any idea how stressful this is for me? For Victoria? Thinking we might be linked to you?”). More than 250 pages later, I’m still not clear why a friend being outed as a gossip columnist would have an impact on someone beyond providing them with a good anecdote to tell over dinner. That said, perhaps worrying about the finer points of Anon Pls.’s plot is to miss its strengths.

Not surprisingly, the novel is at its best when trading gossip (albeit made up) and exploring how tittle-tattle shapes popular culture. Running alongside Cricket’s story is a compelling tale about rakish ageing A-lister Duke Dudley. With his abusive behaviour eventually brought to light online and amplified by @deuxmoi, the narrative arc ultimately serves to illustrate the moral good that so-called “gossip” can wield.

As the book draws to a close, Cricket hits on the idea of branded merch to monetise @deuxmoi – which reflects how, in real life, the Instagram account has launched a merchandise website. The novel then can be thought of as another extension of a beloved brand.

But while the book is entertaining, it’s probably still @deuxmoi’s nose for gossip rather than literary flair that will keep those sweatshirts flying off the digital shelves.

AnonPls by @deuxmoi is published by William Morrow (£20.00)

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