It’s been a while since I’ve popped up a book review and that is honestly because I haven’t been reading as much lately and the books I have been reading haven’t been worthy of a review! But when I spotted Sophie Kinsella’s latest novel – My Not So Perfect Life – on sale recently, I made sure to pick it up.
I’ve enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s writing for a long time now – I love how she’s unapologetically known as the queen of writing chick lit books – but cool chick lit books that shy away from the typical standards that you’d expect in such a story. She’s not afraid to tackle tougher subjects in her books, yet her writing is almost always relatable on some level or another.
Saying that, I can’t say I ever particularly became a fan of her Shopaholic series and didn’t read past the first couple of books. However, I loved I’ve Got Your Number and Remember Me? is still hands down one of my favourite novels of all time which has resulted in a creased dog eared copy that I read at least once a year.
My Not So Perfect Life is probably the only recent work of hers I’ve picked up and after reading the blurb, I was curious to read the whole story.
The blurb reads -Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.
Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.
But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?
Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.
Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.
And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?
The grass is always greener… with the right filter.
At first glance, I thought this book was a very on trend take on current issues we all face in the type of society we are, what with always being online. But I immediately thought it was an interesting twist – although the story touches on Katie Brenner creating a certain life via Instagram, her jealousy and envy of her boss – Demeter – is very real, happening right in front of her eyes. So it was an interesting take to indulge in the regular feeling a lot of us often have these days – envy for the picture perfect lives we see online and comparing ourselves to others – but this focuses on the jealousy we feel and develop in real life.
The story mostly focuses on this subject of course and we see a huge transformation in Katie’s life – from being a professional but quite frankly exhausted Londonite to slumming it back home in Somerset, swapping glamourous clothes for whatever is comfortable. The change is very subtle and gradual but we as readers can already see what’s right in front of our eyes – Katie is clearly much happier at home deep down, even though she doesn’t acknowledge this.
Throughout the book we learn more about Demeter too and within a few chapters we quickly learn just how different her life actually is as opposed to the life she portrays. Demeter was an interesting character – it was weird that we met her as a head strong b*tch boss, but midway through the book we’re feeling sorry for her and eventually come to love her as she lets her guard down and becomes a much more relatable person.
Katie’s character sounded almost like my inner monologue at most points – she’s determined to stick to her fast life in London, even if behind the scenes everything is less than perfect – by a lot. She’s got ambition. She’s headstrong and she’s honest. But she’s also very human too. It takes her a good while to see the truth about her own life – let alone her bosses – and though to us it might seem so obvious where her heart lies or where is best for her, she definitely does her fair share of denying.
This book is essentially about our portrayal of ourselves not just online but to everyone in general. We put a mask on and act like our life is perfect, but when the masks come off and the chips fall down, we’re all just pretty much the same and neither of us are better than the other, even if someone may have a higher position at work than you or more followers on Twitter.
There’s a few lovely side stories in this novel too – there’s a little romance, and it’s very interesting to see Katie take on the roll of helping her father and his partner launch a new glamping business. For Sophie’s readership, this part of the book was really quite fascinating, hearing about how Katie advertised the venture and helped promote the business. We are – as bloggers, at least – a society who take matters into our own hands – we plug our blogs relentlessly, we choose creative freelance work over stuffy ‘safe’ jobs and most of us are pretty much obsessed with social media – or at least fascinated by it – and it’s ability to drive revenue and custom.
So overall the smaller storylines in My Not So Perfect Life really helped to round out the book and change things up a bit. My Not So Perfect Life is a story that I’ll certainly read again and again and I think it’ll do well to help us all remember that no matter how jealous or envious we might be of someone, when the masks come off and the truth is revealed, we’re no better than each other – it’s not a competition and really there’s little to be jealous of.
Have you read My Not So Perfect Life yet? Let me know!