I put this aside at the 10% mark even though it’s very well written. Actually, I put it aside because it’s so well written.
Katie Brenner’s need to reshape herself until she fits into the perfect London Life that she knows should be hers once she’s earned it, was too raw for me to find it amusing. She’s like Cinderella’s step-sister, ready to cut off her toe to fit the glass slipper if it will win her her charmed life.
The London that Sophie Kinsella summons up is vivid and believable. It brought back to me all the reasons I loved and hated in the five years I spent living in London. The excitement of being in one of the world’s iconic cities, so often seen in movies that, like Katie, I could easily imagine myself to be on a film-set. The misery of commuting on the Tube, crammed together with people determined to pretend to ignore one another while fighting for every inch of space. I remember watching the pedestrian traffic flood over London Bridge and hearing Elliot’s poem in my head:
Unreal City Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, I had not thought death had undone so many. Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled, And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Sophie Kinsella gives this a more humorous tone but still captures the purgatory that is the London commute.
Then the is the creative agency that Katie works in. The way Sophie Kinsella described it brought back to me all the meetings I’ve had with marketing people who pushed ‘creativity’ as a reason why what they were recommending didn’t have to make any sense.
All of that was in the first hour of an eleven-hour book. I hope life gets better for Katie and that she leave the insanity of London and the Chimera of its perfection far behind but it touches too many sore points in my own history for me to want to travel along with her.
If you’re up for the journey, I recommend the audiobook version. Fiona Hardingham does a wonderful job with the narration. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.