This is a sweet funny story with likeable characters.
I fell out with Sophie Kinsella, I don’t imagine she ever knew about it or would care if she did. For years she was my go to author for light hearted holiday reading. It was the shopaholic character that eventually put me off, strange as that was the first book of hers I ever read ‘Secret Dream World of a Shopaholic’ that was to launch the mega selling series and hit film. One of the reasons I liked it was I had lots in common with the protagonist Becky Bloomwood, like her I got into a bit too much debt in my early 20s. It was fun reading about someone in my situation but in a silly light hearted way, I was a little narked that all her problems were pretty much sorted by her well off family, aristocratic friends and millionaire boyfriend while I had to grindingly, painfully and slowly pay off my credit card debt but it’s fiction – that’s life – woman slowly pays off credit card debt and sensibly changes her spending habits probably isn’t a synopsis that would win a book deal. I forgave Sophie Kinsella and her fantasy world and enjoyed the rest of the series and several other Kinsella romantic comedies. This was until I got to Mini Shopaholic, basically Becky is dealing with being Mum to a toddler on top of her normal shopaholic problems but this novel also tries to deal with austerity after the 2008 banking collapse. The characters in the book have to appear to be spending less because of the financial crisis, Becky has to help her clients in the shop where she works as a personal shopper disguise the fact that they are still spending a fortune on designer clothes though clever and humorous methods. But it wasn’t funny anymore, I had people close to me loosing their jobs, having their hours cut, desperately trying to make ends meet during a fierce international recession and Becky has to hide her excessive shopping for designer clothes. I felt it was ill judged of Kinsella, her books don’t have to deal with real issues she could have ignored it all together, the way she featured it I found insensitive and offensive. It was then I noticed that none of her heroines ever had any real problem, they all came from well off families in the Home Counties, all had nice jobs in London and ended up with rich successful boyfriends. So what? You say. This is fun fiction. Not all books have to be about gritty issues. Kinsella is probably sensibly writing what she knows about characters from a similar background to her own. And I totally agree with you, it was just that for me as I changed and life around me changed and became more difficult for those around me the gilded world of her heroines lost its appeal and I went totally off her!
So what am I doing reading her again? Well I just finished a turgidly dense Balzac (you won’t find a review of it on here, reading it was taxing enough without having to analyse what I read). And I was chatting with someone at work saying I couldn’t work out what to read next to follow that and she said that she only reads silly stuff like Sophie Kinsella. And suddenly after a Balzac and a five year break it suddenly seemed oh so appealing to sink into a light and whippy Kinsella once more.
And I didn’t regret it! I’ve Got Your Number is the story of physiotherapist Poppy who looses her phone and engagement ring on the same day and chaos and hilarity ensue! She finds a replacement phone in a bin (told you this is a fantasy world) and while searching for her ring gets involved with the phone’s previous owner through reading all his messages while simultaneously dealing with her own relationship and self esteem issues. It’s very good. Not the funniest Kinsella book I’ve read but then more romantic than most which I enjoyed as I like a good love story.
I guess the conclusion is that there is nothing wrong with Kinsella. Perhaps I was just having a strop because my own life wasn’t going as well as that of her lovely lucky heroines. I may well enjoy her for dessert again after a struggle through a heavy tome. I guess books can be pretty powerful, even when they are about hapless shopaholics and meant as light hearted fun, they can hold an uncomfortable mirror up to your own life and be quite upsetting.