My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Publishing Date: February 7
Genre: women’s fiction, contemporary, chick lit
Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. The final, demeaning straw comes when Demeter makes Katie dye her roots in the office. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.
Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.
Katie wants nothing more than to be successful just like her boss Demeter. She wants that perfect life: career, friends, flat, dinners and parties, clothes. Demeter seems to have it all, and Katie both admires and resents her boss. She needs an opportunity to prove to Demeter she can do more for the branding company than plugging in survey responses. But when Katie’s suddenly let go, she heads back to her father’s farm, and tries to piece together a new life. Little does she know, London comes calling in the summer when Demeter and her family decide to vacation in her father’s new glamping resort. After several muddy fiascos and revealed disguises, Katie and Demeter piece together vendettas within the London company, and do their very best to make things right again.
I went through a massive Kinsella binge early last year (here, here, and here) and was thrilled to read an advance copy of her latest novel. Even if I hadn’t read Kinsella before, this book caught my attention immediately.
Katie (or Cat, as she wants to be called for her London Persona) is instantly likeable. I wanted to be her friend and commiserate with her in her tiny bedroom with a hammock for a closet, or with her at work beside her tiny desk plugging in survey after survey into spreadsheets. I wanted to go on adventures with her around London and do our very best to not spend a single pound, because money is precious and we have very little of it. Heck, I’d even dig in the trash to get the wrapped sandwich back (THAT SCENE!).
She tries so hard to fit into the ideal London image that she forgets who she really is and where she comes from. Her transformation back in Somerset with her father’s glamping business isn’t a drastic one, but certainly eye-opening for her. She finds her talent in branding blossoming, her customer service skills flourishing, and her ability to run the business smoothly is something of a gift. Is this where she truly belongs?
The entire novel focuses on perception, both in real life and online. Take the settings, for example. Katie perceives London to be this glamorous place, the ideal city in which to live and work — but her father thinks London is scary and dirty and cruel. Katie also finds comfort in the country, and is more than aware of farm life hardships — but the glampers, such as Demeter, idealize it to be rustic and quaint and “back to the roots” of civilization. Now, take the people! Katie perceives Demeter to have an absolutely perfect life, but Demeter’s life is falling to pieces. Katie also works hard to maintain an Instagram account of her false London life with images of nice cafes and expensive restaurants, gorgeous clothes and party venues. It’s all a lie, but it convinces her friends that everything is bright and cheerful. Not everything is as it seems, and it takes some investigation and proper observation to find the truth.
There is so much more I want to talk about — Katie’s coworkers, Dad and Biddy (BIDDY!!), Alex the Love Interest, Coco and Hal, the glampers — but if I say anything more, I may spoil the book!
Part office dramedy, part love story, I could not put down this witty new novel. The little romance is second (even third!) to the primary plot of Katie’s life and growth, navigating adulthood with as much professionalism and gumption as she can muster. Toss in the hilarious scenes with Demeter in the office and on the glamping farm, and you’re in for a treat!
Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book from Dial for review!