I like Sophie Kinsella's novels; well, most of them. The Shopaholic novels are the exception. I read the first one years ago, and found the idea of a chick lit novel that centers around a woman who has a spending addiction not very entertaining. Especially when she gets the guy and the happy ending. What does that say about being responsible?! But I have read some of her other novels, and I have enjoyed them very much.
I did end up liking this novel, too. I had a very hard time getting into Katie's story. It is, after all, very much like other British chick lit plots: country girl yearns to be a London ad agency superstar; falls for the handsome director, has a perfectly perfect sophisticated boss with a seemingly enchanted life. But of course life hands Katie some setbacks and she has to find her real, authentic self. I just didn't connect with Katie's character at all, and I struggled through the first half of the novel. I kept putting it down and reading something else, picking it up, half-heartedly reading a few chapters, putting it down again. This went on for about a month. The other day I decided to buckle down and finish it!
Katie struggles to find the perfect (in her mind) life in London, but it's not easy. Her job doesn't pay much, so she shares an apartment and has to commute quite a ways to get to work. She's often broke and to convince herself and others that life is grand, she posts pictures to Instagram showing all the fabulous things she does in London. Except all those things don't really exist; Katie's pictures don't tell the whole story. Her boss, Demeter, is someone Katie really wants to emulate and learn from; if only Katie can get Demeter alone for a few minutes she could pitch some of her ideas and Demeter would see just how talented Katie is and promote her. Katie is very talented, and her gifts shine when, through unfortunate circumstances, she's fired and has to flee home to her father's farm in Somerset. She's too broke to stay in London.
But, she doesn't tell her Dad she lost her job, and instead tells him and her step-mother that she's on a break from her very demanding job. She uses her talents to help her father start a glamping business on the farm, and it's a huge success. Homemade cooking, yurts, campfires; everything sophisticated city folk want in outdoor entertainment. Katie still yearns to get back to the city, but is having no luck finding a job. She loves the farm, but it's just not where she wants to be in life.
And then, Demeter and her family show up at Ansters Farm for a glamping week. Katie has a chance to get some revenge on Demeter for firing her. But will it be enough?
There's a whole lot more to the plot, but I won't give more away. There's Alex, Katie's love interest, and Demeter's seemingly bizarre habit of losing emails and miscommunication that is creating tension with prospective clients. There's Katie's relationship with her father; he doesn't understand why she wants to live in London when she could be in Somerset. What exactly will make Katie happy?
This novel is all about finding your happiness, and the pressure of social media to portray a perfect life with no worries. But we all know everyone has plenty of stormy days along with the sunny, blissful days. Katie's assumptions about others not only create misunderstandings, but make her feel her life isn't sparkly enough, when it is just fine.
So yes, this was a fun read. I just wasn't in the right frame of mind to dive in and read it all at once. Most certainly it would make an entertaining vacation read; I think if I'd read it in the summer I would have enjoyed it more sitting on my front porch with a cool drink.
Rating: 3/6 for a novel about a young woman's desire to have a life that is picture perfect. Katie is a smart young lady who's just trying to figure it all out. Lesson: don't believe everything you see on social media. No one's life is perfect.
Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio.