My Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.08 / 5 stars
Sophie Kinsella’s latest book tells the story of Katie Brenner, a small town farm girl who has moved to London to work in branding. From the outside looking in, Katie’s life might seem perfect. She works at a cool job, wears the right clothes, has the right haircut, and her instagram feed is on point. However, Katie (Cat when she’s in London) feels like she’s barely staying afloat. In reality she works a junior assistant position that is mainly busy work, her clothes all come from the discount rack, and her bangs never seem to stay put. Despite everything, Katie stays optimistic that her dreams of making it in London will come true, until everything suddenly falls apart. Katie is fired, seemingly out of nowhere, and has to move back home to Somerset. There she helps her dad and and stepmom launch their new “glamping” business. Just when Katie is starting to feel comfortable in her new (old?) life, her London boss books a stay at the family property. Katie realizes this could either be an opportunity for revenge or an opportunity to get back on her feet in the branding world.
Life isn’t perfect – even if it looks like it on instagram. The overall message of this book is definitely one most people can relate to. No matter how perfect an individual’s life may seem, there’s always more below the surface. I especially enjoyed Katie’s talk of social media. She’s constantly comparing her social media footprint to others, as many of us do, and she constantly feels like she is coming up short. But even she is guilty of only posting the absolute best things about her day – things that will photograph beautifully. I think it’s a good reminder to women that none of us are taking pictures of our messes and posting them, so our social media lives aren’t a true reflection of us.
The setting is adorably quaint. I definitely enjoyed part two of this book way more than I enjoyed part one. A big part of this was the setting. There was something sad about the London setting, from Katie’s cramped apartment to the overcrowded subway. But the descriptions of their somerset farm, and the situations simply being on a farm led to, made part two so much more enjoyable.
That classic Kinsella humor was definitely present. Sophie Kinsella’s books always give me sort of a Bridget Jones vibe. They are rom-coms but they usually lean towards the goofy over the romantic. This book definitely stuck true to that style. In fact there were several moments I actually giggled out loud to myself. I could definitely see this book being adapted into a cheesy, feel-good chick flick. Between the setting, some of the quirky characters, and the slap stick moments it would add up to the perfect slumber party flick.
The characters were, for the most part, unoriginal. Each character felt like an overused stereotype. Her boss, Demeter, is a workaholic with barely any time for her family. She comes across as a total dragon lady in the office, but as layers are peeled back you realize there’s a gooey center. We’ve all seen this trope played out far too many times. Even worse though, were Katie’s parents. They were complete caricatures of how “farm people” should act. Biddy, her stepmom, is constantly doing “farm” things like making her own jams and soap. Her dad is meant to be lovably dopey, but often just comes across as a bumbling idiot. I couldn’t take either of them seriously and it definitely took away from the overall story for me.
The plot often felt too convenient. Everything just falls into place, at exactly the right moment, so that Katie will get her happy ending. Even when she is fired, her parents just happen to be starting a new business and need her help? How lucky for her. It just didn’t feel realistic at all and I felt myself eye-rolling at the improbability of it all.
The love story/interest in this one is awful. *SPOILER ALERT. SKIP THIS SECTION IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED.” After literally only meeting each other three times, one of which they argued, Katie and Alex have sex. Out of nowhere. Katie is thinking to herself how she should make the first move because she can tell he likes her too. I assume they are about to kiss, because they haven’t done even that yet, and instead she takes off her shirt! What!?!? Apparently the only way to land a successful, good-looking guy, if you’re a simple, farm girl, is to get naked. After this, Alex barely pays attention to her. You’d think growing up on a farm Katie would have heard the old adage “why buy the cow if you get the milk for free?” This scene was ridiculous and the book would have been much better without it.
Overall, I didn’t hate this book, it just fell sort of flat for me. I definitely think there is an audience for this book and women who will love it, but in my opinion it was forgettable.