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Published: 7 February 2017
Publisher: Bantam Press
Category: Womens Fiction (Chick Lit)/Contemporary
Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.
Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.
But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?
Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.
Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.
And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?
Rating: 4 Stars
Sophie Kinsella captured my attention many years ago with the Confessions of a Shopaholic series. She showed that she had real strength in her writing, being able to balance light topics and mix them with seriousness at the right times, making for a fun combination that doesn’t weigh too heavily on the reader.
Returning to her newest work, My Not So Perfect Life, I was happy to see that the quality of her writing was much the same. After having written over ten novels, I wasn’t sure what I would be coming back to. Katie Brenner, the main character, is totally different from Becky Bloomwood, the aforementioned Shopaholic. While they are a somewhat similar taste for living in the center of it all (London), they are quite different and that’s fine.
Katie’s story felt like it might be a bit slow at first. The summary makes much of her losing her job and being forced to return home, so I thought that crucial event was going to take place much sooner than it did. While in the reading it felt a bit slow, upon reflection I think Kinsella took just the right amount of time to bring Katie’s London life into focus, introduce to some major and some minor characters, and then move us to the countryside for the later half of the book where a lot of Katie’s, and her former boss Demeter’s, character development takes place.
As far as the characters go, I think Katie was well rounded and had a good time of things. The one part that I didn’t really like was the conclusion of her relationship with Alex Astalis. It seems like in the end that they’ll go their separate ways after having a bit of adult fun and that would have made a lot of sense and been perfectly fine. However, in the last one or two percent of the book, he comes rushing back into her life and she accepts it far too easily. I thought that felt really rushed and it rang of falseness. I would’ve loved to see Katie enjoy their time together, as she said she did, and then move on with her career, as she was doing when Alex bumbled back in.
Then there is there are the interactions that Demeter has with the rest of the book’s cast. She is quite the villain of the piece for much of the book, or at least made out to be one. It’s revealed at the end that a lot of the mad things going on with her (forgetting dates, emails being sent or deleted, etc.) are actually part of a sabotage plot, but that’s neither here nor there. Some of the actions Demeter takes are her own and I’m not sure totally excusing her, letting her apologize and get away totally clear in the end, was all that great. She’s a boastful person who doesn’t think about what she says half the time and yet this seems to be forgiven once the plot against her is uncovered.
It is also mentioned that she might have prosopagnosia (face blindness) to a certain degree. Katie knows that there’s a rumor about this and through her interactions with Demeter it certainly seemed plausible long before Demeter confirmed she had a little face recognition problem. On the one hand, Katie’s treatment of this situation is a bit mean, though. She never acknowledges that this might cause Demeter some real trouble with remembering names/faces and lashes out about this both to herself and to Demeter’s face once things start going down. One the other hand, as I mentioned with regards to Demeter’s boastful actions being excused earlier, her behavior with not learning to work with her disability doesn’t mean that she should get away with being disrespectful to her colleagues. Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you get to be disrespectful of the people around you, especially the ones you work with/employ.
Overall, I think that Sophie Kinsella’s newest novel is a lot of fun to read and the new setting, taking place on a farm with a family that’s a bit nutty (a father that goes from project to project until he settles on glamping), was a humorous one to try out. If this was my first Kinsella novel, I think it would convince me to try more of her novels. As it is at least my seventh or eighth, I like to think I’ll keep reading her future books and make short work of older novels I might have missed.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.