Mar 22, 11
Chick-Flick Fans over 16
Read on March 22, 2011, read count: 1
Alright, this one finally broke the magical streak from Sophie Kinsella. This one was OK, and certainly not nearly as fun as the Shopaholic, Remember Me? or Can You Keep a Secret? that I've read recently (OK, Shopaholic wasn't recent, but the other two were), though I'm sure my personal preferences are at play here.
First off, I don't like fish-out-of-water comedies. I like them even less when the fish is out of water due to their own dishonesty. Kindergarten Cop, Enchanted and Big are a lot funnier than things like White Chicks or Just One of the Guys. It's funnier and more relatable when the new, uncomfortable scenario is thrust on the main character without their input/knowledge/efforts. I don't know why, but somebody lying and then complaining about the situation they're left in, when they deliberately went out of their way to be there is supremely annoying to me.
Second, about fifty pages in, I thought I had this whole book pegged. I thought I knew exactly what the Geigers were all about, how Samantha was going to solve her problem and how things were going to end up. NONE of it happened the way I thought, and, frankly, my plan would have been better.
This book ended up wrapping up like every typical, predictable, tired chick-flick, rom-com on the planet. She gets the guy, she has an epiphany of sorts, and then... who knows. There's no possible way for life to go perfectly from this point, the characters and the stories have twisted around (in order to bring about the biggest possible romantic surprise, naturally) in such a way that any normal person would be fired, dumped, ostracized, living somewhere illegally... whatever. They throw everything away, run away from everything just to be with that one special person, and then the story conveniently ends, and there's no mention of how they put the shambles of their lives back together.
This is a rant on chick-flick, chick-lit, rom-coms in general, not necessarily all to do with this story; though the rant definitely applies.
Aside from all that, I have to admit Kinsella is genuinely funny. Though I felt several characters in this book were left underdeveloped, there were others that were so true to life, it was endearing. I also loved the British, dry humor from Samantha. She was so deadpan and sardonic, I actually snorted in laughter a couple of times.
It is a cute story, and it does have a nice philosophical question threaded throughout it: Just because a woman CAN have a prestigious, successful career in a male-dominated field, does it mean she MUST seek and hold that career? Can our feminine brains be put to use outside an office? And why is a "man's work" the only work we consider worthy of our time, efforts, attention and accolades? Interesting, to say the least, especially coming from someone who I think is pretty liberal (and I do mean "liberal" for a Brit... which is to say "super liberal" for an American).
Sex 3/5: One couple has sex outdoors after a whole day's worth of teasing and touching, the actual sex itself isn't described, but it's fairly candid afterward and during the entire buildup. A couple engage in a long term relationship and sex is very casually mentioned. One couple leave a copy of "The Joy of Sex" open on their nightstand, open to a specific position, more than once. A woman talks of being very efficient in her sexual exploits, "I finish in six minutes, tops" A tacky word for orgasms is thrown around pretty casually.
Language 4/5: Every curse word, but pretty sparingly over the whole of the novel.
Substance Abuses 4/5: The main character gets completely plastered on a train ride, and then wanders around in a drunken stupor. One character admits to smuggling illegal anti-depressants and pain killers and shares them with friends. Champagne and beer are consumed casually. One character owns a pub, and everybody drinks and smokes in the pub. One character drinks copious amounts of liquor in secret to deal with her problems. Another character has a Bloody Mary every time she feels nervous.
Violence 1/5: A man punches a lawyer in the face. A woman punches a man in the face. A woman threatens to kill another woman, half jokingly.
The whole storyline of this book is based in deceit: lying about one's qualifications, lying in order to get the best legal outcome possible, cover ups, conspiracies, withholding information, etc. There are a lot of lies going around in this story.