17

Sophie Kinsella strikes again

When I started reading Sophie Kinsella’s latest, My Not So Perfect Life, I took a second to look through the list of Kinsella’s other books.

I have read every. Single. One. So I guess you could say that Kinsella is one of my favourite authors.

But even though she’s a favourite, I wouldn’t say that I had unnaturally high expectations for this book. I’ve read all of her work, but I haven’t loved it unconditionally across the board. There were some misses in the middle of the Shopaholic series, Wedding Night was pretty terrible actually and I remember being underwhelmed by The Undomestic Goddess.

So when I tell you that I loved My Not So Perfect Life, know that I mean it and it’s totally worth your time!

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Cat Brenner is trying to make a go of her London life. Ever since she can remember, it’s been her dream to live and work in London, despite the fact that it’s kind of breaking her Somerset farmer dad’s heart. So even though she has no money, lives in a terrible flat with heinous roommates, and has a shaky hold on a job at a branding agency that comes with a vile commute, she would never admit that her life isn’t going exactly how she planned. She can’t even remember to answer to her chic new name and constantly introduces herself as Katie.

But then, Katie gets fired and she can’t find another job. She finds herself back home at the family farm, to the delight of her father and stepmother. And they actually have a  great idea – to turn the farm into a glamping vacation destination. Katie decides to help get them up and running while she keeps up the search  – and doesn’t tell them that she lost her job. She’s on a sabbatical!

When her former boss, Demeter, shows up with her family and starts to divulge personal information to Katie, her perspective on everything changes.

If you’re familiar with Kinsella’s work, you should be able to see that it has classic Kinsella elements. There’s also a tall, dark and handsome successful man for Katie to maybe get involved in. But right now, the fact that this book is classic Kinsella, is exactly what I needed. I needed to laugh about crazy roommates, misunderstandings and hi jinx, even some physical comedy.

And in the end, Kinsella rewarded me with a different kind of love story. One where our plucky heroine comes to admire a strong, clever, ambitious woman and finds some of those same elements in herself. A book where the goal is to get a career on track, to fall in love with the work that she’s doing, and to constantly learn from the other brilliant women she works with.

After reading about orphans, backstabbing queens, difficult women and sexual assault, My Not So Perfect Life was just what the bibliotherapist ordered.

(What? That’s a real thing)

12

Sophie Kinsella Nails YA Fiction

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review.

I loooooooooooove Sophie Kinsella. It’s rare for me to read one of her books and not enjoy it. She is a really funny writer and I’m not sure she’s given enough credit for the emotional depth of her writing and her characters. People are probably distracted by the insane(ly hilarious) hi jinx her characters get up to.

Maybe Finding Audrey will change that.

Finding Audrey is Kinsella’s first attempt at YA fiction and I have to say, she hit it out of the park.

finding audrey

Audrey has developed an anxiety disorder from something that happened at school. You never find out exactly what happened, but you can guess. The result is that she wears dark glasses all the time because she finds eye contact extremely difficult, she never leaves the house – even for school – and her family, brothers Frank and Felix, and her very concerned but a touch hover-y parents, are constantly concerned she’s going to have a meltdown.

With the help of her therapist, Dr. Sarah, Audrey starts trying to push herself more and that’s how she starts talking to Frank’s friend, Linus. Linus seems to understand that Audrey needs to take it slow, that writing works as communication for her right now and soon he’s helping her to go all the way to Starbucks, a massive step for her.

I loved so much about this book.

I loved that it was about a teenaged girl struggling with her mental health. I loved that her therapist was a warm, understanding person who urged Audrey to continue taking her medication while pushing her to take bigger steps outside of her comfort zone. I loved that she had a loving, yet totally realistic, family. Her mom is always trying crazy things she reads about in the Daily Mail, Frank is addicted to video games, and her dad is half-listening some of the time.

Yes, it was a teen romance in a way but only in all the best ways. Linus shows Audrey that she’s worth something, that she can go to Starbucks and be ok, that the world isn’t always a scary place.

I loved the fact that we never find out what exactly happened that triggered Audrey’s anxiety disorder because it was never about what happened. It was about moving forward, about allowing it to have happened but not to let it define who Audrey is. There’s such a great lesson in this book about the ups and downs of life, it’s not a straight line up, there are always going to be tough bits of life but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t participate anyway.

Programming note: This will likely be my last post before Christmas. Am hoping to get a few posts up before the new year but in the meantime there’s a log cabin in the woods waiting for me. I’ll basically be spending all my time reading though so hopefully I will have lots to write about when I get back! Hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday!

8

There’s a New Shopaholic Book Out!

Have you heard? Becky Bloomwood is back!

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I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Shopaholic to the Stars and I can say that   this book is totally on par with the best of the Shopaholic books. It’s about time that Becky Bloomwood found her way to Hollywood! This latest installment is classic Kinsella filled with misunderstandings, mix-ups, and ridiculous situations that only Becky Bloomwood would find herself in. But there better be a follow-up coming out soon because there are some serious unanswered questions about that ending!

But this isn’t about the new Shopaholic book. I was reading Karen’s confession style post (which you can [and should] read here) when I realized that when it comes to Sophie Kinsella, I have a lot to say. I thought it might be fun to run some of that down for you guys.

1. Sophie Kinsella is the undisputed queen of Chick Lit. I am a staunch defender of the genre and there’s no one better at it than Kinsella. When she’s not entertaining us with stories of Becky Bloomwood or any of her other standalone heroines, she’s writing under her real name, Madeleine Wickham and those stories are also compulsively readable, full of hijinx and hilarous.

2. My favourite of her standalone novels has always been Can You Keep a Secret? Emma is a nervous flyer and on a flight home she regales her seat partner with all of her most embarassing secrets. Turns out he’s the new boss coming to inspect the UK division and he remembers her and all her secrets. You can imagine the hijinx that follow. I also love Twenties Girl about modern day Lara who ends up spending time with the ghost of her great-aunt Sadie. Sounds a little far-fetched but I remember it being loads of fun and kind of moving. And I’ve Got Your Number was really excellent too.

3. I thought that the Shopaholic series took a dive somewhere in the middle and I was concerned that either I’d outgrown the genre or Kinsella had exhausted the character. But then Mini Shopaholic (even Shopaholic and Baby was a massive improvement over the previous two books) really redeemed the series. And Shopaholic to the Stars is really very good.

4. The Shopaholic movie was a disaster but I wish that someone would adapt one of the standalone books. I’m fairly confident that The Undomestic Goddess, I’ve Got Your Number or Remember Me? would all make excellent movies.

5. I have read every one of Kinsella’s books and I probably always will. So keep ’em coming Sophie!

Shopaholic to the Stars is out in Canada today!

0

I’ve Got Your Number

I love Sophie Kinsella. Love her. She is one of those authors that I obsessively collect everything she has ever written. I was beyond excited when I heard that she had a new standalone novel coming out, I’ve Got Your Number.

I love the Shopaholic books (the latest one Mini Shopaholic was excellent) but I adore her standalone novels. Can You Keep A Secret? was definitely my favourite but I also have a soft spot for The Undomestic Goddess and Twenties Girl was delightfully unexpected.

(Have I mentioned that I Love Sophie Kinsella? Just wanted to get that in there at least one time)

Ladies, I’ve Got Your Number did not disappoint. I obsessively read it into the wee hours this morning because I needed to finish the last 100 pages.

So Poppy Wyatt has this incredible family heirloom engagement ring – a beautiful emerald with diamond baguettes. And she is out at this fancy hotel lunch with her favourite ladies when she loses it. And in the middle of trying to sort out the confusion (did I mention the fire alarm went off right after?) her cell phone gets stolen right out of her hand.

Now she’s ringless and phoneless. Classic Kinsella heart palpitations ensue. By some incredible chance she finds a cell phone in a garbage bin in the hotel. She needs a phone to deal with the fallout of the lost engagement ring so she decides to ‘borrow’ the phone. Only thing is this phone belongs to Sam Roxton’s PA. His PA who has just walked out on the job in favour of a modeling gig. She needs the phone, he needs the messages that come through the phone. So they compromise: she will get to hang onto the phone for now, if she forwards all the communications meant for Sam.

Clearly this has hilarious implications. Sam Roxton is in the mold of Luke Brandon, for those of you familiar with the Shopaholic books. But Sam is slightly less stern. He sounds hot. All of a sudden Poppy is getting all of these insanely personal messages, highly sensitive confidential corporate material and putting her own spin on things to be helpful.

This book was classic Kinsella. There were some seriously cringe-worthy moments, some ridiculous moments that only a Sophie Kinsella heroine would find herself in and a healthy dose of sigh-producing romance. And you know, backstabby frenemies too. Gotta have frenemies.

Anyway, I’ve Got Your Number was delightful. I kind of want to read it again immediately. It also had a note on the font in the back and I LOVE that. So points all around.

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6

Nothing Wrong With A Little Chick Lit

The other day I came across this article that sounded like it was about Sophie Kinsella and how chick lit is awesome, but really it wasn’t. It was more about questioning if chick lit doesn’t do more harm than good.

For some reason, the idea of chick lit is deeply abhorrent to a lot of people. Something about it dumbing women down, making women seem ditzy and scatterbrained, and reinforcing the notion of women as the weaker sex? Something. I don’t know. I personally have never understood the uproar.

I am a self confessed, unabashed lover (and promoter) of chick lit.

In my personal opinion, Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes are the complete and total Queens of the genre, dominating my own bookshelves for years now. But there is room for the likes of the equally impressive Emily Giffin, Jane Green and Cecelia Ahern (whose work *confession* I have not read as yet only because I’m terrified of crying (see: sobbing) like a baby, having seenP.S. I Love You completely against my will).

I think the argument against chick lit has a lot to do with the perceived materialism exhibited by the female characters in these books and maybe these days, with a pinch of hindsight, that makes folks uncomfortable. But just like I continue to buy Vogue magazine, chock full of all the beautiful things that I will never be able to have, I love to jump into the Shopaholic books and read about all the beautiful things that Becky Bloomwood finds. If I can’t have them, someone should be able to! Even if that someone is a fictional (albeit it fabulous) character.

I like to think of myself as a smart woman. I’m fairly well read. I know stuff. So what’s the problem with reading chick lit? It’s fun, often extremely poignant and there is always something to be gleaned from them about the human condition. And isn’t an emotional education just as important as a formal one?

By attempting to diminish the work of these brilliant women, the people that have an issue with the chick lit genre are belittling their merit and insulting those of us that love their work. When I finish Catherine the Great, I would love nothing more than to have something chick lit-ish waiting for me next. And I see nothing wrong with that.

Bottom line here: I’m going to read what makes me happy, so if you know what’s good for you, you will stop harping on about all this chick lit stuff and let me read it in peace!

Sophie Kinsella’s new one (I’ve Got Your Number) was released this week. I’ve visited copies of it a few times now. Haven’t taken the plunge. Soon my pretty!