Monday, April 12, 2010

I was thrilled to win a copy of Sophie Kinsella's latest novel Twenties Girl from the great book blog Peeking Between the Pages. I've always loved Kinsella's novels, and I was excited to get right to this one. Unfortunately, I maintain a teetering stack of books in my To Be Read pile by the bed, and this one only got added to the tower. Finally, though, I decided I had delayed the pleasure long enough.

In a departure from Kinsella's previous chick-lit outings, this book is a ghost story. Twenty-something Lara has hit a rough patch in her life. Her boyfriend Josh has inexplicably broken off their relationship. She's quit her job and cashed in her savings to go into the headhunting business with her friend Natalie, who has gone on vacation and refuses to return. All of this is not easy for a girl whose uncle is the world-famous founder of the wildly popular Lingtons Coffee shops. You'd think some of the business acumen and confidence would have rubbed off on Lara, but no such luck.

At this point, Lara attends the funeral of her previously unknown Aunt Sadie. Sadie recently passed away at the age of 105 after living many years in a nursing home. Lara had never seen Aunt Sadie before, and knew nothing about her. During the service, Lara is surprised to hear the voice of a young woman, stridently asking where her necklace is. Lara soon discovers that she is the only person who can hear the voice -- for the voice with the misplaced necklace turns out to be the ghost of the recently departed Sadie. This ghost, however, takes the form of a flapper from the 1920s, rather than the 105 year old woman Sadie was at the end of her life.

The ghost is so annoying and instant that Lara is able to delay the funeral service so that she can investigate the missing necklace that the ghost is so desperate to find. Lara is also powerless to resist when the ghost gives her advice on dress, makeup, dating and other matters. On the bright side, the ghost can also travel effortlessly through walls and eavesdrop on conversations which end up being useful talents that ultimately help Lara.

Although Lara has apparently been a total screw-up to this point, with Sadie's help she is able to discover all sorts of family secrets and gain control of her life. While the premise of the book ensures that the reader doesn't take it too seriously, some of the events of the novel just don't ring true. For instance, Lara is obsessed with Josh, her former boyfriend, but when Sadie tells her, "He never loved you" Lara basically is able to turn off her obsessive behavior and completely forget about him. Not exactly how the out-of-control-serial-texter Lara would have probably really reacted!

All in all, I didn't enjoy this book as much as the others by Sophie Kinsella. The plot was a bit too unrealistic (even for a ghost story!) and everything was a bit too neatly tied up at the end. Still, it's a pleasant enough read. I just hope her next book will be better!

Final Verdict for Twenties Girl: Three Gherkins, for a wonderful London setting (including a trip on the London Eye!), but somewhat lukewarm characters


Gail Is This Mutton? said...

I agree with you - not the normal Kinsella, not as enjoyable as usual. The ghost really irritated me, although I was intrigued by the actual necklace. And then to confound matters, Marian Keyes' latest book also seemed to be about ghosts and that wasn't as good as usual either.

Lisanne624 said...

I know, that whole ghost screaming at Lara the whole time got old fast! I did like the Marian Keyes book better. I guess ghosts/vampires/etc. are the hot topic these days!

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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