Kate, Katie, or Cat Brenner is 26 years old. The name she uses depends on the circumstances. She grew up on a farm in rural Somerset, raised largely by her father after her mother died when Kate was very young. Her dream has been to work at a London branding agency, and finally she has managed to snag a job that actually pays her for her work. (“I spend every night attempting to invent a new kind of bra, or low-calorie caramel. No joy yet.”) She is the most junior member of the creative staff at Cooper Clemmow, where her boss runs rampant over everyone in her path.
The head of the department, Demeter (de-MEE-ter), is 45 years old, brilliant, scatter-brained, and totally clueless about everyone else’s feelings. To Kate, though, Demeter’s life is perfect: a brilliant and handsome husband, two children who could be models, a house to die for, and a reputation as one of the most inventive people in the industry.
So, can you guess what’s going to happen? Naturally, we will learn that Kate is herself brilliant. We’ll discover that Demeter’s life is anything but perfect. And we’ll see Kate grow up very fast. Along the way, we’ll laugh a lot. A whole lot. At least, I did. This is British humor (or, rather, humour) at its gentlest best.
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (2017) 449 pages @@@@@ (5 out of 5)
My Not So Perfect Life is Kate’s first-person tale of her days at Cooper Clemmow, and then . . . well, you need to read the book. I won’t spoil it for you. Her account frequently digresses into observations about life in general. For example, she muses, “If I ran the country there’d be courses on things that you’d actually use your whole life. Like: How To Do Eyeliner. How To Fill In A Tax Return. What To Do When Your Loo Blocks And Your Dad Isn’t Answering The Phone And You’re About To Have A Party.” Call me weird. British humor isn’t to everyone’s taste. But I found this funny.
Sophie Kinsella is the pen name of Madeleine Sophie Townley Wickham. She is the mother of five children. Kinsella is best known for the nine novels of the Shopaholic series, which were adapted into the 2009 film, Confessions of a Shopaholic. She has also written sixteen other novels. Kinsella is known as one of the leading authors of British humor.
For further reading
If your taste runs more to genre fiction, check out:
- 20 excellent standalone mysteries and thrillers;
- My 20 favorite espionage novels; or
- Great sci-fi novels reviewed: my top 10.
And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, plus a guide to this whole site, on the Home Page.