The latest offering from undisputed queen of chick-lit, Sophie Kinsella, is My Not So Perfect Life, a funny, yet cautionary tale of expectations and reality and the troubles of striving for a perfection that isn’t insta-perfect.
There’s not much in my life that can compare with the thrill of a shiny, brand-new Kinsella book and heroine. I was travelling on the launch date of My Not So Perfect Life so enjoyed the pure, unadulterated pleasure of consuming this book on a plane, completely uninterrupted – ‘just a glass of sav blanc, please’ – from cover to cover.
Thankfully, this book did not disappoint! It’s classic Kinsella – a loveable, yet struggling heroine, heart-stopping love interest, some farcically hilarious comic moments and a light, non-preachy moral to the tale.
Katie Brenner has the perfect life – or so it would appear. Having ditched her rural roots for the bright lights of London, Katie’s Instagram feed boasts a perfect life of social and career success.
Sadly, Katie’s reality isn’t quite as fabulous as her pictures suggest. Her lowly office job pays peanuts and her flat share is a disaster. Her Instagram account is a pack of lies, propped up by sneaky shots of other people’s food in fancy cafes.
Work takes a turn for the worst when Katie’s evil boss, Demeter fires her. Demeter embodies the life that Katie would love – glamorous, successful and fantastically rich (think Miranda Priestly in A Devil Wears Prada.)
It’s the final insult, and with no other prospects Katie retreats to her family’s country home to lick her wounds. A family plan for a glamping resort on the farm is hatched and Katie rolls up her sleeves to help out.
Things get complicated when Demeter swans up at the farm to sample the delights of glamping. Some hilarious scenes follow where Katie surreptitiously manages to wreak revenge on her stuck-up former boss.
Away from the bright lights of London, secrets are spilled and the inevitable life lessons follow. A spotlight is shone on Demeter’s seemingly perfect life as Katie is forced to decide what she actually wants from her life.
Katie is a charming heroine – likable and down-to-earth she has us rooting for her from chapter one. Kinsella’s heroines are generally disaster-prone and Katie is no exception (cue the scene where she stumbles into a mouthful of someone’s else’s panini on the train).
Katie is a quirky, yet relatable heroine, who takes us willingly along on her journey with humour and an unwavering ability to bounce-back.
A country girl who grew up longing for the razzmatazz of the big city in London, Katie is relatable to any young girl who has moved to a city (myself included – although just not so young now!) in search of a shiny, new dream. As so often in life, the reality is grittier, and tougher, than the vision.
And on the topic of Katie being relatable – who here hasn’t spent hours trawling through Instagram to find the perfect filter for a holiday snap? Or made your boyfriend take dozens of pictures of you, frocked up for a big night out – only to write them all off as unusable as they don’t match the image of how you would like it to look your head? I certainly have, and if you’re being honest – I’m sure you have too.
Katie is no different, and her constant quest for the perfect Instagram shot of her new London life is a funny, yet pertinent reminder of the social media behaviours so many of us are guilty of.
Shopaholic fans who fell in love with Becky will be cheering for Katie all the way through this fast-paced, funny novel.
A great read in classic Kinsella style offering humour, romance and some gentle life lessons on the realities behind the so-called ‘perfect life’ often presented on social media.
There is something I found a little ‘samey’ about this book to some of Kinsella’s other offerings. In similar style to Kinsella’s leading lady in The Un-domestic Goddess, heroine has drama in her ‘fancy’ job, retreats to the countryside to lick her wounds, disaster and comedy and ensue before a love interest swoops in and finally a resolution reached.
However, this is a Kinsella formula that works a treat, so I can forgive it (and if I reach deep inside, I wouldn’t want Kinsella to mix things up too much when she has her art down perfectly).
I loved the glamping storyline and the madcap tricks Katie plays o her former boss to get her own back after being fired from her job. It amazes me that after churning out over 20 novels, including those as Madeleine Wickham, Kinsella can continue to come up with funny and original ideas.
And she’s keeping them coming, with a new book out in 2018, ‘Surprise Me’. I’ll let you know as soon as a date announced – I’ll be taking the day off work, the phone off the hook and hunkering down with my beloved new book and a giant block of chocolate on that day!
Buy the paperback here: