My (not so) Perfect Life
by Sophie Kinsella
I was so excited when I saw My (not so) Perfect Life on the new shelf (because I had recently added it to my Goodreads TBR list), so of course I grabbed it. And then I read it in two sittings. It was so good – heartfelt, funny, and brilliant. I loved every second and laughed out loud on multiple occasions. Kinsella is amazing. I want to read more of her books and thankfully I have plenty to choose from.
The thing I loved most about My (not so) Perfect Life was how Kinsella deals with the concept of “perfection” and how it doesn’t really exist. Katie’s stepmom, Biddy, tells it straight to Katie: “Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, love. Whoever started the rumor that life has to be perfect is a very wicked person, if you ask me. Of course it’s not!” I love her enthusiasm. Later, Katie puts it together. She says, “I think I’ve finally worked out how to feel good about life. Every time you see someone’s bright-and-shiny, remember: They have their own crappy truths too. Of course they do. And every time you see your own crappy truth and feel despair and think, Is this my life, remember: It’s not. Everyone’s got a bright-and-shiny, even if it’s hard to find sometimes.” There’s so much truth in these quotes and I love that Kinsella brings it out in her novel, along with all the humor and laughs.
Katie is an aspiring branding associate. She’s worked hard to become a research associate at a major London branding firm, but is not quite living the life. Her apartment is small, roommates are weird, commute long, and budget small. Her boss, Demeter, has it all: perfect husband and kids, clothes, job, lifestyle, etc. All Katie wants is to be given a chance. She wants Demeter to see her and recognize her work, but Demeter is oblivious. On top of it all, Katie feels pressure to display the perfect life to everyone around her, including her dad and stepmom. She has a great relationship with them, but she knows how badly her father wants her to come home, and that is a lot of pressure. Spoilers: Just when Katie starts feeling like she might be making headway, she gets fired, and the worst of it is that Demeter thought she had already fired her before she actually did. Katie is crushed, but determined to find another job before telling her parents. At the same time, her dad and stepmom inform her that they are opening up a B&B of sorts, using fancy tents on their gorgeous country property. Katie’s stepmom has a talent for hospitality and baking (including the most delicious jam), and her dad has a knack for drawing people in and giving them a fun time. Their business takes off and they ask Katie to help them with branding and a focus. Katie agrees to “take an extended holiday from work” to help out, not telling them the truth that she’s jobless. Hilarity ensues as she changes her sleek city look into a softer country style, causing her to be unrecognizable as the business takes off (due to her branding skills) and her old boss comes for a stay with her family. Katie takes the opportunity to get revenge, making Demeter do awful things in the name of getting closer to nature, etc. She slowly softens though as Demeter’s shell cracks and Katie sees that her “perfect life” is actually a life of difficulty and challenges with her family. Demeter’s biggest struggle is at work where she is repeatedly forgetting things and messing things up with customers (very unlike her), to the point where she thinks she’s going crazy and is about to be fired. Her boss, Alex, is a young man who previously hit it off with Katie in the city. He comes to the B&B to fire Demeter, but Katie steps in to help Demeter keep her job. They continue to hit it off and he decides to listen to Katie, who has realized that Demeter is being undermined and set up by a younger, jealous colleague (her assistant who has been using her access to destroy Demeter’s career). They form a plan to get proof, using Katie, who is able to get on record that Demeter’s assistant was ruining Demeter’s reputation. The truth comes out and Katie is given her dream branding job with Demeter. Alex and Katie fall in love as well and officially get together. Her parents’ business continues to thrive and it’s the happiest ending!
Summing it up: this book was light, funny, heartwarming and awesome! I loved it and I highly recommend it!
All the best, Abbey