Things are still… problematic in my life. I am in need of a steady diet of peanut butter and books that feel like peanut butter, so hello Sophie Kinsella. Though her books may seem to be my kind of thing (London, upwardly mobile single girls, relatable struggles), I have not read one for a long time. The first couple of her Shopaholic stories were cute, but then they got so repetitive and unreal that I wanted to strangle her. Because, honestly, if I wanted to read about an otherwise intelligent person making inexplicably bad choices I would keep a damn diary. But there has been some buzz about her new book, My Not So Perfect Life, and it felt appropriate for staving off suicide so I bought it.
Our intrepid heroine here is Katie – call me Cat – Brenner. A country girl who has moved to London determined to make it in the cutthroat world of branding. She makes almost no money, has an insane commute and works for a monster, Demeter, who pays no attention to her or her ideas. What she does have is a big fat lie of an Instagram account where she projects a fabulous life that she is in no way living. In other words, she is all of us.
Katie is trying to get noticed and starting to fall for a formulaic love interest when she is suddenly let go from her job. After struggling to find a new one, she decides to go back to her childhood home to help her father and stepmother start up a new business of glamping on their farm. The best part of this book is the business, it was super fun and interesting to read about the start up and running of it and it was so nice to not have this entire thing be about getting an eventually disappointing man. Things threaten to fall apart when Demeter and her family show up and threaten to expose her falsehoods (she’s told her parents that she is on sabbatical, not wanting them to know that she’s been terminated) and there are some amusing parts that don’t go on too long until everything comes out.
Demeter eventually becomes a real person instead of a caricature, and this changes everything. This is a much more mature book than I am used to from Kinsella, and that makes all the difference. There is misunderstanding and some revenge fantasies that result in a few laughs, but it is not drawn out too long and doesn’t become tiring. This is definitely still a ‘take me away from this’ kind of book, but it is warm hearted in a way that didn’t make me want to bang my head against a wall. I wouldn’t call my current bar exactly high…
Also, the audiobook performance is excellent if that is your thing.
My Not So Perfect Life – Grade B