Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

435 pages
July 21, 2009
Random House Publishing
New York, NY

I know I said I was on break from reading chick-lit, but I couldn't pass up the chance to read and review British chick-lit author Sophie Kinsella's latest novel Twenties Girl, which was released in the US last week. I had planned to read it later this summer, but some how managed to get my hands on a library copy within days of its publication and then I couldn't resist taking a 12-hour break from Little Dorrit to read and review a brand-new novel. And so here we are...

The Plot
Lara Lington has always had an overactive imagination, but suddenly that imagination seems to be in overdrive. Normal professional twenty-something young women don’t get visited by ghosts. Or do they?

When the spirit of Lara’s great-aunt Sadie -- a feisty, demanding girl with firm ideas about fashion, love, and the right way to dance -- mysteriously appears, she has one last request: Lara must find a missing necklace that had been in Sadie’s possession for more than seventy-five years, and Sadie cannot rest without it. Lara, on the other hand, has a number of ongoing distractions. Her best friend and business partner has run off to Goa, her start-up company is floundering, and she’s just been dumped by the “perfect” man. Sadie, however, could care less.

Lara and Sadie make a hilarious sparring duo, and at first it seems as though they have nothing in common. But as the mission to find Sadie’s necklace leads to intrigue and a new romance for Lara, these very different “twenties” girls learn some surprising truths from each other along the way. (Summary courtesy of the publisher)

My Thoughts
When I first heard that Sophie Kinsella's next novel was a "ghost story" of sorts I wasn't the least bit interested in it, but after reading the plot description and remembering that her other books have been quick, light, and generally entertaining reads I changed my mind and decided to give it a chance.

And I found Twenties Girl to live up to my revised expectations. It was a clever and entertaining romantic comedy that had me laughing out loud at times. Excepting the usual amount of profanity and love scenes that are generally found in Kinsella's books, Twenties Girl was overall a good read. I should also mention that in comparing this recent read side-by-side with another British author's chick-lit I can honestly say Kinsella's prose if definitely superior to that of Katie Fforde's, but it is still by no means a "classic".

Although Twenties Girl can be called a ghost story, it really isn't. First, there's nothing ghoulish or creepy about the story. Second, it's really more the story of a twenty-something British girl struggling in life and love, whose encounter with the ghost of her dead great-aunt sends her on a path of adventure and self-discovery, which eventually leads to a happily-ever-after-ending for all concerned. I'd call it a fantasy/romantic comedy more than a ghost story.

As for the characters... Initially Sadie's character really grated on my nerves and I couldn't stand her immature, selfish, and her apparent hedonistic view of life, but gradually her character settles down and if ghosts can learn lessons, learns a few lessons from Lara, which very much improves her. On the flip-side Lara's character seems to have a better grasp of her morals and responsibilities, but is unwilling to take some chances, but with the aide of Sadie changers her outlook on life and some of her relationships.

There were some vaguely familiar aspects to this novel. The ghost story part reminded me of the 1990s film, Ghost, but only a tiny bit. And then there were aspects of Lara and the love interest that reminded me of characters in Hester Browne's The Little Lady Agency and Kinsella's earlier work, Can You Keep A Secret.

My Summary
Still, overall I thought this was a fresh and entertaining story by Kinsella and I am tempted to say of all of Kinsella's novels that I've read (Shopaholic series, Can You Keep a Secret, The Undomestic Goddess, Remember Me?, and Twenties Girl) this latest novel is probably a close second to my favorite...

On a scale of 1-5, 1 being horrible and 5 being excellent I would rate this new chick-lit novel, Twenties Girl a 3.5. I am glad I took the time (one afternoon and evening) to read this book and I definitely recommend it to fans of Kinsella's books, but it's still a borrow vs. buy in my opinion.


Alison said...

I can't wait to read this book. Unfortunately, I have it and about five other new releases out from the library right now. Too many books!! But oh so fun. :-) I also noticed that Sophie recently published another book under her other (real?) name, Madeline Wickham. I'm curious about that book, too.

B said...

Sounds great! I can't wait to get my hands on this one. Sophie Kinsella's novels never fail to delight.

Kate said...

My book group chose this for our book this month and after reading your review I am even more anxious and excited to read it! Thanks!