A great summer read

‘The Undomestic Goddess’ – Sophie Kinsella

5-star-rating

The Undomestic Goddess - Sophie Kinsella

The Undomestic Goddess – Sophie Kinsella

Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has just done the unthinkable. She’s made a mistake so huge, it’ll wreck any chance of a partnership.

Going into utter meltdown, she walks out of her London office, gets on a train, and ends up, in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she’s mistaken for an interviewee and finds herself being offered a job as housekeeper. Her employers have no idea they’ve hired a lawyer; and Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. She can’t sew on a button, bake a potato, or get the #@%# ironing board to open. How she takes a deep breath and begins to cope – and finds love – is a story as delicious as the bread she learns to bake.

But will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does – will she want it back?

Fans of Sophie Kinsella will not be disappointed with ‘The Undometstic Goddess’. An easy read, this comical story had me laughing out loud along the way finishing with a satisfying happy and romantic ending for all. I would recommend this as one you pack in your suitcase: not only is it set in the summer but the satisfying ending is perfect for reading by the pool.

Samantha Sweeting is a workaholic and in the opening chapters readers witness how obsessed she is with her career and aspirations of becoming a partner in the successful law firm she works in. Her inability to switch off during a reluctant pamper session had me cracking up and I found Kinsella’s descriptions familiar from my own observations of typical city workers. The narrow-mindedness towards life meant that Samantha just couldn’t recognise she was giving up so much for a goal that would not be the reward she really wanted.

So when she begins as a housekeeper in a small village in the country where nobody recognises her, I found myself waiting for the penny to drop with her employers. But the Geigers aren’t quite clued up and Samantha manages to blag her way into becoming their housekeeper, even though she has no idea how to cook, clean or do anything domesticated.

The Geigers are such comical characters and Samantha’s observations really make you chuckle. For example, when Eddie is reading through a suspect contract, Samantha is desperate to tell him he is making a mistake but at the same time she fears showing she is more than just a housekeeper. The lengths she goes to are entertaining but at the same time I found myself wishing she would reveal her identity and get the recognition she deserves.

As Samantha adjusts to her new life (which allows time off from work – quite a novelty for her!), she finds herself becoming attracted to the Giegers gardner, Nathaniel. This romance is charming and sweet and you know that this is where Samantha should be. But when she discovers he has a hatred of lawyers, you are left wondering what will happen when he learns the truth about Samantha?

This is a great read and entertaining every step of the way. One you can easily dip in and out of, I found myself liking Samantha more and more, and found I could relate to her in so many ways! If you have read other Kinsella books then don’t pass this one over. If not, then I definitely urge you to give this a go – I’m sure all of us have been flummoxed by domestic chores at some stage!

A deserving happy ending

‘Bridget Jones’s diary’ – Helen Fielding

5-star-rating

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones’s Diary’ follows the fortunes of a single girl on an optimistic but doomed quest for self-improvement. Cheered by feminist ranting with her friends Jude. Shazzer and ‘hag-fag’ Tom, humiliated at Smug Marrieds’ dinner parties, crazed by parental attempts to fix her up with a rich divorcee in a diamond-patterned sweater, Bridget lurches from torrid affair to pregnancy-scare convinced that if she could just get down to 8st 7, stop smoking and develop Inner Poise, all would be resolved.

I think it is always tricky to read a book when there is such a successful film adaptation and I have to admit, I always pictured the actors who played the characters from the film. That being said, if you have seen the film then I urge you not to by-pass this book because it is quite different, with more escapades from Bridget.

I love how Helen Fielding has drawn so many parallels with Austen’s Mr Darcy and her own Mark Darcy. Right from the start I was rooting for Bridget to move on from Daniel Cleaver and find her love for Mark, and desperately wanted her to realise how much of a bad boy Cleaver really is! You know that Mark is really Bridget’s knight in shining armour but I do think that there was opportunity for Fielding to go into more detail about why Mark and Daniel don’t like each other (yes, like in the film).

There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, such as the diary entry where Bridget is desperately trying to program her video player. You can’t help but laugh at Bridget and her misfortunes, and Fielding has created a loveable character that I think all readers can relate to. So much so, I really wanted to give Bridget a big hug, particularly when she wrote about how down she was feeling.

This is a really good book to read and I am keen to read more books by Helen Fielding. Charming and witty, Bridget Jones has many character traits that can be seen in all of us and I think this is why the book has such timeless humour. It might have been first published in 1996, but there is still so much that Fielding’s readers can relate to.

Awkward and predictable humour

‘The Debt and the Doormat’ – Laura Barnard

1-star-rating (1)

Image courtesy of goodreads.com

The Debt and the Doormat – Laura Barnard

Poppy and Jazz have been best friends from the first week of uni. Whenever these two get together trouble isn’t far away and things haven’t changed much. When Jazz gets herself into financial trouble Poppy, being a good friend, offers to help. She instead ends up being talked into swapping lives, with Jazz insisting it will be good and help her get over her broken heart. 

Poppy is thrown into a new life, full of crazy house mates; there’s fitness freak Izzy, horrendously beautiful bitch Grace and the slightly gorgeous, if not incredibly grumpy Ryan. Quickly, with the help of Jazz, her life is thrown upside down. Madness ensues and her need to please everyone gets her in more trouble than she could ever imagine. 

Before she knows it she’s got a fake boyfriend and is hiding so many secrets she’s scared they’ll spill out any minute. With a bullying boss, a sex crazed colleague, a mental mother and three brothers each with their own dramas, life has gotten pretty difficult for Poppy. And all of this would be much easier, if she could just stop falling over. 

Will she get her life back to normal before her brother’s upcoming wedding? And will she want to?

The blurb gives so much promise and follows the “rules” of a typical chick flick novel. But instead, you are presented with a predictable storyline and humour that just makes you cringe and feel quite awkward. It felt like I was watching a comedy film – you can see where and when the punch line is coming and when it does, you end up feeling sorry for the characters involved, rather than laughing at the predicament.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an easy read to get in to and you want Poppy to finally sort herself out by the end of the novel (if nothing else, just to relieve that never-ending awkwardness that is prevalent throughout the story). The predicaments she finds herself in are quite lame and unbelievable; it made me question how Barnard was inspired to write this because it becomes quite far-fetched. For example, Poppy tells her mother that she is pregnant in order to escape meeting a pretend boyfriend in the city (they actually end up visiting this poor random bloke’s office and the situation is quite cringe-making), and this is still circling the gossip mill at the end of the story. Each time I wanted Poppy to have the balls to stand up to her unbearably controlling mother and just get on with life. Seriously, how could anyone manage to get themselves in the situations she finds herself in?

Another irritation for this story is that whilst it starts out with Poppy and her best friend, Jazz, swapping lives (clothes, way of living and where they live), this just seems to continue in the story, even though it is evident that this life swap has clearly got out of control. Fuelled, it seems, by going out every night to get drunk, I wonder just how far Barnard’s readers can relate to this. Again, surely common sense and self-belief would prevent anyone from acting in the way that Poppy does?

Perhaps I have missed the point of this novel and taken it far too seriously. Trust me, I could definitely see where Barnard was trying to go with this story but it really didn’t pull me in. The attempts at humour seem reminiscent of Sophie Kinsella and it is this that brought me to the conclusion that either the writer is trying too hard to create a chick flick novel, or has taken elements from different chick flick novels to combine it into her own… just not very successfully.

Lots of lolz!

‘Mini Shopaholic’ – Sophie Kinsella

5-star-rating

Image courtesy of sophiekinsella.co.uk

Mini Shopaholic – Sophie Kinsella

Like mother, like daughter…!

Shopaholic Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood)’s two-year-old is … spirited. She knows what she wants, whether it’s a grown-up Prada handbag or a toy pony (40% off, so a bargain, surely?) When yet another shopping trip turns to mayhem, Becky decides it’s time to give Minnie her own pocket money. Is it a bad sign when Minnie goes instantly overdrawn?

Minnie isn’t the only one in financial crisis. As the Bank of London collapses, people are having to Cut Back. Everyone needs cheering up, so what better way to do it than to throw a fabulous surprise party? A thrifty party, of course. Except economising and keeping a secret have never been Becky’s strong points …

Sophie Kinsella does not let down fans with this instalment to the ‘Shopaholic’ series. This is a great read in more ways than one, not just because it was great to read about Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood!) and her mishaps, but the comedy value throughout left me chuckling out loud whilst reading and telling my poor husband about what I had just read.

To be honest, before I started reading this book I was sceptical about how Kinsella could make this an original story, after all the ground she has covered in the previous Shopaholic books. But the charm and humour in this book wins you over as you read about Becky and her young, mischevious daughter, Minnie. And whilst it has been several years since I read the last Shopaholic, it does not feel that time has passed at all, with all the familiar faces back in the story: it was easy to pick up again where I left off.

The letters that Becky receives and the notes she writes still feature in this book and I think this is one of the things that I love about Kinsella as a writer. They give the book a bit of punchy humour and at the same time you are left wondering what Becky said in the original letter. This, I think, is a very clever technique that Kinsella uses and a subtle way to keep you hooked in the story. They add to the plot but at the same time provide a bit of quick humour, which is never a bad thing, in my opinion.

I don’t think I could ever get tired of reading about Becky Bloomwood and her Shopaholic adventures. Kinsella has once again pulled it off and the ending still managed to surprise me in places, even though I had guessed some of what was going to happen. I really fear that this is the end of the series but Kinsella does leave it open for another instalment. The question will be, how could she make it as entertaining to read? With ‘Mini Shopaholic’ Kinsella has ticked all of the boxes so if you have read the other books in the series, then you should definitely read this one as well – it would be criminal not to!