Back when I was in high school, I was shopping with Costco with my Mom, and I had this tendency (and by "Had" I mean, still do) to make a beeline for the book section and spend what some would call a disproportionate amount of time browsing there as opposed to the other massively sized sections of the general massiveness that is Costco.
Once, I happened upon a bright pink book that looked kind of interesting. I picked it up and turned it over, read the back and instantly, my eyebrow shot up. It was British - already, a point in favour of it. It sounded funny - second point. I bought it. It was called Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophia Kinsella and I eagerly devoured it in a day or so, while on summer vackay. Lucky for me - Shopaholic Takes Manhattan was already out and Shopaholic Ties the Knot was just around the corner. I bought both and read them back-to-back, and absolutely loved Becky's world. Until Shopaholic & Sister (which I liked, as opposed to loved - mostly because the sister and Becky were different to the point of ridiculousness) and Shopaholic & Baby - a book that I still have yet to finish, sadly enough.
Anyways, the point is - I liked the Shopaholic series. Mostly. By the end, the main character was flighty to the point where I was wondering if she'd evolved at all? And, the other characters were beginning to become insufferable. So when a girl who lived a street up from me (and went to my school) told me about Kinsella's other novels - I passed. Enter my bestie, LG, and her obsession with Sophia Kinsella - a recent thing, but there you go. She handed me three Kinsella novels last year when she moved in with me: Twenties Girl, Can You Keep a Secret?, and The Undomestic Goddess.
Through her constant encouragement, I picked up the first one after I finished a rather sexy series, called Darkness Chosen by Christina Dodd. I think my aim with it was to temper the sauciness of the series with some fun chick lit. Of course, this book was more then that - way more. Twenties Girl was sad and funny and just poignant all around.
There, I thought. If Kinsella can do this again and again, I just might finish all the other of her books I have neglected.
So it took me half a year, but this new year, picked up Can You Keep a Secret?. I loved it. Yeah - though it was spotty at first, I did love it. Here's the thing: At first, I didn't think I would. Honestly. I thought the character of Emma - our protagonist - was Becky (aka Shopaholic) only with crap parents and a pretty clingy bf. It took a few chapters of me waffling (Think "Becky - er, right, not Becky - this is Emma.") but by the time we get to the unravelling of her secrets - I am hooked. Here's the synopsis for you:
Things are suddenly starting to look up for the hapless but optimistic Emma Corrigan. She has kept her job at Panther Cola for nearly a year, has the perfect boyfriend and hopes for a promotion to marketing executive should her first opportunity to strut her stuff and land a business deal be successful. Unfortunately, things don't go quite as planned, and on her unusually turbulent return flight from a disappointing client meeting, in a terrified state, she confesses her innermost secrets to the good-looking stranger sitting beside her.I must say - Jack Harper is one of those heroes you just love from the bat. Especially because he just seems like a genuine down-to-earth, nice guy. He is definitely a teasing type - and poor Emma doesn't seem to understand that, but his little jokes and implications - pure gold!
When she shows up at work the next morning, she is horrified to discover that her mystery man is none other than the revered and brilliant Jack Harper, American CEO of Panther Cola, on a weeklong visit to the company's U.K. branch. Thus begins a series of chaotic, emotionally exhausting and funny episodes that thrust Emma, with her workaholic best friend, Lissy, and their awful flatmate Jemima, into a world of fairy tales, secrets and deceit.
The thing I do love about Kinsella's novels (asides from the fact that they're funny) is that the resolutions are a long way coming - they are not neat packages that end with some sort of merriment - there are crap characters, and there are people who fade in and out again - it's nice to have that kind of depth to minor characters IMO, and I really like the way they have their own voices, even as Emma is speaking for them (first person POVs are hard to write, I imagine).
So at the end you are left in a jolly mood - you have to be, the book is fun. But you are not left with the traditional everything tied up ending of chick lit fame - instead you are left with a more realistic, and funny ending that means more to the story as a whole.
Anyways, I highly recommend Sophie Kinsella again! And it was all to do with LG - or Ginger Spudman as she is known in the blogging universe!