I have long felt that Sophie Kinsella understands the many beautiful shades of gray that women can occupy. Women are not all the same, our experiences are not identical and certainly, our reactions to life will not be carbon copies of each other. Regardless of whether I personally identify with a character, Kinsella writes female protagonists I feel like I know. In turn, these women experience stories that ring true all with a heavy dose of humor and, often, a lovely added romantic element.
I started, as many people do, with The Confessions of a Shopaholic. Kinsella has experienced great success with this series. As of now there are ten books in the Shopaholic section of Kinsella’s published shelf. I enjoyed these books. I liked Becky even though it was hard to watch her make the same mistake over and over again. And I do know people like Becky. Sometimes, I am like Becky! I call it “retail therapy” and I think everyone does it. Unfortunately, the success of these books has created a little pigeonhole. Some people who read the Shopaholic and did not enjoy it went no further with this author.
That is a shame. Before she was the commercial success she is now she published seven books under her real name, Madeliene Wickham. Now, these were enjoyable books but my real author obsession stems from the eight non-Shopaholic books she has published as Sophie Kinsella.
When I say that I adore a book I mean:
(1) I own a hardcopy (if the copy wears out I will buy another copy). I need full-time access.
(2) I have read it more than once all the way through.
Of the above Kinsella books I adored Twenties Girl and The Undomesticated Goddess most of all.
When I say that I love a book I mean:
(1) I have a copy, probably on my Kindle
(2) I read excerpts from it just to revisit moments in the story.
I loved Can You Keep a Secret and I’ve Got Your Number.
I have not yet read Finding Audrey. It is Kinsella’s first Young Adult publication, which is probably how I missed it. I will rectify that immediately!
Now, there was nothing wrong with either Remember Me or Wedding Night. I read them both and enjoyed them tremendously. I recommend them! However, when I run into a Sophie Kinsella book I must admit that I do not give these two hugs.
Her latest book My (not so) Perfect Life goes straight into the adore category. I was lucky enough to grab this one off the new books display of my local library and it is going straight on my to-be-owned list.
This book is the story of Katie Brenner at the beginning of adulthood and all the mistakes we make when we use social media as a litmus test for life. The jacket describes this book as “Part love story, part workplace drama…” but I disagree. Yes, there is a romantic angle but I don’t know if it took up even twenty percent of the total story. Instead, I felt that this book was truly a butterfly story – we got to see Katie look back on herself, reaccess herself and take steps into her future self.
Katie, like many people today, spends a great deal of time cultivating a social media image that portrays her life as the glamorous Londoner she longs to become. At no point did I think she did this with any acrimony. In fact, even when she is posting pictures of other people’s hot chocolates while eating another round of butternut stew it never occurs to her that other people’s Instagram feed might not be the whole story.
One of my favorite quotes from the book is when she meets a man in the elevator and proceeds to speak to him like she would anyone else. Only later does she learn he is her superior and, upon Googling him for hours, finds out that he is a big deal. Her take? “This is the trouble with meeting people in real life: They don’t come with profiles attached.”
I love this! When social media comes into the picture so many of us stop acting like normal people. We think we know someone from their Instagram feed or their Facebook page. Then, we change how we think and behave based on those preconceived notions. It is like we are all minor celebrities trying to live up to or explain our online image.
One thing that Katie talked about extensively is her West Country accent and upbringing. I must admit that I almost always read these books with a standard English accent. So, I felt like I was missing out a bit on the real Katie. I did a bit of digging (6-7 minutes on youtube) and found Anna from English like a Native who is a self-proclaimed British / English pro. She has some great videos on the different British accents and I quite enjoyed her video on the West Country accent. I felt quite sorry for my family though because Anna makes me feel like I could finally conquer that Cockney accent.