Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been itching for romcoms — not movies, but books. Something light and fun that also doesn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out over the lack of character depth or completely ludicrous and implausible situations. Even in my darkest days I still want to read something with quality! But what would I read? I wanted to read adult fiction, but I tend to gravitate to fantasy, historical, and a bit darker (aka “sadder”) contemporary on my adult fiction TBR bookcase. I looked at my Read shelves and thought “Hmmm…is there something similar to The Royal We that I could binge-read?” And Sophie Kinsella immediately popped into my head!
Because I enjoyed Finding Audrey so much, and I like all the concepts behind Kinsella’s non-Shopaholic books, I decided to dive in and try reading her adult fiction. She grabbed my attention with Emma Corrigan in Can You Keep a Secret? and now I can’t get enough! Though her books follow something of a formula (young twenty-something career woman experiences painfully, hysterically embarrassing situations and comes to her own, all with a light little romance on the side), it’s the narrator’s anxious, driven, silly brain that feels so akin to my own that draws me in! I am that young twenty-something career-focused woman stumbling through Adulthood and trying to Prove Herself. Give me your silly, scattered heroines, Kinsella. I’m ready.
I’ve Got Your Number (★★★.5) was an excellent second choice after reading and loving Can You Keep a Secret? Poppy’s character and inner monologue speaks to me on such a deep level. Reading her fluctuating confidence/responsibility and self-doubt/insecurity makes me want to shove this book into people’s hands to better understand me, in a way. This was also an incredibly millennial book too. The digital elements to this — our society’s need to be in touch with everything and everyone and all times — was all too relatable. I’d die* without my phone, as I need it for work and personal life and social media and games and notes and reminders, and it’s not like I even use all those smart phone apps in the first place. Just your basic smart phone stuff! But wouldn’t it be nice to not have it for a while? How peaceful does that sound? Anyway, Poppy’s digital part of story was funny and surprisingly crucial to the plot.
As for the romantic elements in this book, I have a note in my scribbled-on-scrap-paper review: “obvs disliked Magnus because wtf who is this guy.” I don’t think anything more needs to be said on that. I wanted more from Sam’s character, as it felt like all we really saw was the business side of him, but he certainly wasn’t dislikable. The ending was very much a cheesy romcom movie ending, a bit unbelievable, but certainly cute for this kind of novel, and I’m okay with that!
*exaggeration, I promise
The Undomestic Goddess (★★★) had a bit of a slow start for me, but quickly turned into laugh-out-loud entertainment during all of Samantha’s kitchen and laundry mishaps. I especially related to her with her cooking inexperience. As someone who can set a boiling pot of water on fire** I understood her anxiety during her first cooking lesson with the gardener’s mother. The juxtaposition of Sam’s character in the law firm in London — stressed, frazzled, tired, overworked, unaware of her unhealthy eating habits — and the domestic job in the Cotswolds — easy-going once she learned how to operate the oven and washer, peaceful, open — was brilliantly done. Though the locations and her situation changed, she stayed true to herself.
And again, as for the romantic elements? Swoon. Nathaniel was great, and I couldn’t help but picture Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak in Far from the Madding Crowd from the moment he entered the kitchen and witnessed Sam’s string of mishaps. While Sam’s employers were absolutely ridiculous (if they were real people, I would’ve snapped at some point) and the premise was quite cheesy, it was all around enjoyable good fun.
**I don’t even know