Have you ever wished you could just leave your life behind, shed all responsibilities, all demands, your entire identity? Sophie Kinsella, author of the popular Shopaholic series, explores such a fantasy.
I always hesitate before I pick up a book categorized as "chick lit." I guess I have a little residual English teacher prejudice (from reading, studying, being taught, and teaching classic literature). The simple fact is that back in the day I wonder what some of our so-called classic literature would have been called--some of it could have been called chick lit (Jane Austen anyone?). Regardless, I have learned to appreciate a variety of literature. To get my students reading I encouraged them to read anything from action adventure graphic novels to romance novels with bare chested men on the covers. When you see their noses buried in books, you just can't help but get excited.
But, I digress. I'm hear to discuss Kinsella's novel. I had heard about the Shopaholic series for a few years, but never had a chance to grab a copy of the book. So, when perusing the shelves recently, I came across The Undomestic Goddess. The premise sounded interesting enough. It had the whole "fish out of water" scenario along with a healthy mix of romance, humor, and a sprinkle of feminism (though flipped on its head in many ways).
Samantha, the main character, is a workaholic. She is striving to obtain partner in her prestigious London law firm. Because of this, she seldom has time to maintain proper relationships let alone to clean her flat, wash her clothes, or cook herself a decent meal. Samantha feels the pressure of her high-powered job, but she also feels that the reward of partner will be enough to compensate.
That is, until she makes a monumental mistake that sends her spiraling . . . to a small town where no one knows her. In a case of mistaken identity Samantha becomes the very thing that she not only has been trained not to be, but that she has absolutely no clue how to be--a domestic, a housekeeper, to be exact. It is an odd decision that Kinsella has Samantha make, but it is one that propels her into a world of self-discovery clichéd, but very fitting term). Kinsella mixes enough humor to elicit out-loud laughter. There is a touch of romance, but not enough to feel that this is a romance with other stuff thrown in. Romance works as another catalyst for Samantha to see who she was and who she truly wants to be.
I do love the fact that there is a level of vindication at the end--something that Kinsella does not make easy for our protagonist. Kinsella's writing is light enough to digest, yet heavy enough to leave a pleasant taste behind. You aren't bogged down with non-essential detail and you aren't overwhelmed by non-stop action. It truly is a perfect mix. On a scale from 1-10 (best): 7