“Rachel has nothing to do with me,” Gully Wells informed The Observer, on the phone from London. She was referring to Rachel Noyce, the tall, black-haired haired crush object in The Rachel Papers, Martin Amis’s debut novel, which is conspicuously dedicated to her.
Ms. Wells, 60, is best known for her decade-long, on-and-off love affair with the British author, beginning when they were students at Oxford.
She explained the confusion. “He wrote it while I was with him,” she said, adding that she thought the dedication “was very sweet.”
“I don’t know who she’s based on but it’s not me,” Ms. Wells said. “I know she’s not me, and Martin’s told me she’s not me.”
But Lily, in The Pregnant Widow? Definitely Gully.
FOR THE PAST THREE YEARS, Ms. Wells, an editor of Condé Nast Traveler, has been at work on a book of her own, The House in France, a memoir, to be published June 21 by Knopf. On Thursday night, British journalist Emma Soames will throw a book party for Ms. Wells, at the London apartment of Cathay Airlines Chairman James Hughes-Hallett. Ms. Wells, who now resides in Park Slope, grew up in Fitzroy Square, and maintains close ties to London.
“I met Gully many years ago—it would be not polite to ask how many,” Ms. Soames told The Observer. “We had both been out with Martin Amis, but we also had a lot of other things in common.”
“When Martin dumped Emma she came to cry on my shoulder,” Ms. Wells recalled. Which is not to say that the break-up struck anyone as a surprise.
“She’s one of Martin’s many ex-girlfriends,” Ms. Wells said. “I consoled her and we both survived. She’s a journalist too.”
One result of Mr. Amis’s prolific appetite for young, female writers during the 1970s is that the Martin Amis sex memoir has become a genre of British journalism practically popular enough to merit its own newspaper section.
Ms. Soames has written one. So has her former best friend, Julie Kavanagh, whom Mr. Amis left for Ms. Soames. Other liaisons were no less scandalous for being non-sexual: Ms. Kavanagh’s sister Pat was Mr. Amis’ss literary agent, whom he left for Andrew Wylie.
“It’s very incestuous,” Ms. Wells said.
It’s also very civilized. Mr. Amis has promised Ms. Wells he’ll be at her book party, despite the risk of encountering his entire little black book from years gone by. “We’ll drink too much,” Ms. Soames predicted. “We still do that in England.”