What happened to Sophie Kinsella? My first Kinsella experience was reading Can You Keep a Secret? and absolutely loving it. Even now, it is one of my favorites and a book I generally re-read once a year. I’ve cast and re-cast the movie version of it in my head. It was just a funny and endearing story that I enjoyed. I tried Undomestic Goddess next and found that enjoyable as well even though Samantha wasn’t quite as much fun as Emma. Then I discovered the Shopaholic series. In books one and two, I thought Becky was entertaining if a bit financially irresponsible. I mean, who hasn’t done a little tight-budget splurging? Who hasn’t bought that fabulous pair of shoes that were just a teeny tiny bit expensive? Though far from a shopaholic myself, I could relate to her. Then the Manhattan book came along where Becky is engaged and ends up planning two weddings all because she can’t pluck up the nerve to tell her mother and mother-in-law that the other has each offered to host a wedding for her and Luke. What started off as humorous quickly deteriorated into a fiasco of Becky’s own making. It became irritating by the time the book finally wrapped up, and I had trouble believing that smart, successful Luke was too stupid to realize what was really happening. And this was the last time I would give a decent rating to a Shopaholic book.
Shopaholic and Sister completely derailed the series, which ran off the track to “Decent Read” and crashed into “Awful Mess.” First of all, the sister out of nowhere created a plot out of nowhere, and Jess was just as unlikable as Becky was becoming, albeit for entirely different reasons. By the end, with Becky becoming lost on a mountain and then rescued by a rich friend in a helicopter, it was all just too ridiculous to accept. But I am nothing if not stubborn so I somehow persevered through books five and six, and that was it for me. I couldn’t take another Shopaholic repeat.
So what I had learned or concluded by the end of book 6?
- Becky will always be a liar, but will no longer be endearing at the same time.
- Becky is a terrible mother incapable of disciplining a child and will probably raise a spoiled brat.
- There is no way Luke loves a person who is so self-absorbed and financially irresponsible.
- Kinsella should have quit while she was ahead; she has run out of ideas, and this series has become wash, rinse, repeat.
- This series will never improve, and Kinsella has ruined her own character.
- I am probably still willing to read non-Shopaholic Kinsella books.
And I was and I did. Remember Me was okay. It was no Secret or Goddess, but I didn’t want to throw it across the room mid-read. Twenties Girl was interesting and certainly a different plotline for a Kinsella read. I think I even gave it a 3-star review, then came I’ve Got Your Number, and I was done. What a half-assed attempt at churning out the same old shit. I predicted the ending just by reading the blurb on the back. The characters were dull and lacked any chemistry. The whole book felt like a cog in a money making machine, and I was just so done with Kinsella and her repetitive plots and ditzy characters. Get a fresh idea already!
That was four years ago, and a new Kinsella book hadn’t touched my hands since…until last Saturday when I went to a book sale at a local church. It was “Fill a Bag for $5 Day,” and my bag wasn’t full, and there was a hardback copy of Wedding Night just sitting there, and there was space in my bag. I mean, what kind of book lover could walk out of a book sale with a partially-empty bag??? Not this one. In the bag it went. I had just finished an intense biography and thought a fluff piece would be a quick, no-fuss read. And the eternally optimistic (read: stupid) part of my brain was all, Hey, maybe Kinsella has improved in the last four years.
Nope. She may have actually gotten worse! Lottie is the stupidest character Kinsella has ever written. If you combined the airheadedness of every previous Kinsella character, they still wouldn’t be a match for the idiocy of Lottie. She makes Becky look like a Type A CEO or the Prime Minister or someone who actually uses her brain. And Fliss isn’t much better except instead of being stupid, she’s the queen of temporarily suppressed rage, and she flies off the handle so often, one wonders how she hasn’t had a stress-induced heart attack yet. I am about a third of the way through the book, and I can’t decide whether to persevere or give up. No matter what I decide to do about this one, I think I have already decided that this will be my last Kinsella attempt. I think I’ll stick to re-reading Can You Keep a Secret every year and stop hoping for something fresh from a former favorite author of mine.