I’ve read some Sophie Kinsella in the past and thought this would offer a fun, lightweight, heartwarming read.
I still read it quickly in the way that you do when you’re fully hooked on the story, but despite that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. There were some funny moments, especially earlier on. Sophie does have a knack for witty dialogue and humour.
Essentially the reason it didn’t quite resonate as it should was that the basic premise was a fail, for a couple of reasons.
First, Fliss takes it on herself to wreck little sister Lottie’s rushed rebound marriage by orchestrating non-consummation on her wedding night. Even putting aside issues such as: Fliss has no right; Lottie is a 33 year old adult woman; if she wants a baby, who is Fliss to stop her at this age and stage of her life?…
The main problem was that the non-consummation orchestrations just aren’t funny. They’re too implausible to be amusing: I couldn’t suspend disbelief to that degree, or even close (and I believe in Harry Potter). The telly tubbies, the single beds, the peanut oil, the airport toilet – it just seemed silly, and not very interesting. More cringe than laugh. Rather like those old unfunny farces where people run in and out of doors mistaking identities because they have wigs on, and the like. There’s a reason farces are no longer popular.
Also it becomes clear quite early on that Ben is dimwitted and shallow and unpleasant despite hot bod, so why does Lottie persist in trying to shag him anyway?
Even when Lottie finally realizes she really loves Richard and doesn’t like Ben and they’re going to split up straight away, she still wants to shag Ben just the once. “We deserve this.” Really? It seems deeply unlikely character-wise (who wants to shag a guy who they know is dim, selfish and all over some other woman? Not Lottie, unless she has the lowest self-esteem out there.) It’s a plot device to bring in another round of consummation-obstruction orchestrations, and as they weren’t funny the first time round they’ve definitely overstayed their welcome by now.
Which all sounds highly critical, and is – but partly I’m annoyed because I like Sophie Kinsella, and her writing is lovely: intelligent, warm-hearted, humorous. So I had high expectations. Counterpoint to criticisms: intriguing idea – the rebound marriage, droll moments and flashes of wit, and strong characters. Yes, Lottie’s an immature (likeable) idiot and Fliss is a micro-managing control freak (best interests at heart etc). So they both have issues, but of course that’s what makes them interesting. They’re both engaging in different ways – I rooted for them, and I liked the ending (yay!). I just wanted the story to be better, and funnier.
Also - will still rush out and read the next one that comes along, so slight disappointment not enough to put me off Kinsella. We all have off days.
What Works And Why?
We read to escape, enjoy, engage, and find out more about our world. So reading is great - but what makes a great read? A page dedicated to short analyses of how writers engage readers.