|Genre: Chick Lit
Main characters: Poppy Wyatt, Sam Roxton
Time and place: present day London
First sentence: “Perspective.”
Verdict: Four and a half stars.
Poppy Wyatt is engaged to be married and blissfully happy. Her fiance, Magnus Tavish, is “a tall, handsome university lecturer who’s written a book and even been on the TV“, could life get any better?
A few days later, while she is out celebrating with her girlfriends, disaster strikes: she loses her engagement ring. A very expensive family heirloom, that’s been in the family for three generations! To say that Poppy needs to get it back is an understatement. After searching every nook and cranny of the hotel where she lost it, she resigns and leaves her phone number to all the members of the staff, in case someone eventually finds it.
And then she goes outside and someone steals her phone.
What is she to do now? Frantic with worry and annoyance she paces the hotel floor, when… she finds a phone. Just like that, abandoned, in a bin. She takes it and re-gives the number to the hotel staff. Crisis averted. However, the phone turns out to be a company phone, belonging to the PA of the CEO, no less. And the CEO needs it back, as all his very important emails are routed through the said phone. But Poppy cannot relinquish it, what about her ring??
Yesterday I had a very long day at work (it ended past midnight). When I finally got into bed, I figured ‘hey, I’ll just read a few more pages of this book before I fall asleep’. And, tired as I was, I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. True story. And if this doesn’t show how much I enjoyed reading this book I don’t know what does.
As usual, a heartfelt thank you to NetGalley; I cannot say how happy having access to the next Kinsella book, a few weeks before release, has made me. All the more so since it turned out to be a book I liked so much.
The plot is what I come to call ‘classical Kinsella’, as it’s present in most of her books: a nice British girl gets carried away by her enthusiasm for one thing or another, and ends up really messing up her life. There’s also a guy in there somewhere, usually one she’s just met; they are brought together by strange circumstances — they are not lovers, they are not friends, and yet fate keeps bringing them together one way or another. Usually by the end she helps him with something really important. And over the course of the book their relationship develops into something more, so they end up together. The end.
Well, this may not sound like much (and pretty formulaic to boot), but the charm is in the execution. And I did like most of Ms. Kinsella’s books, so she must be doing something right :)
Back to our present novel. So Poppy loses the heirloom ring her fiance gave her, and this, in a strange turn of events, makes her cross paths with Sam. She is engaged, he’s very uncommunicative. And yet (of course!) I knew all along that they’ll end up together. What I did not know (and kept reading in order to find out) was the ‘how’. A clear case of ‘focusing on the journey rather than the destination’ :)
The characters themselves are the book’s forte, and the very reason I enjoyed the book so much.
A pleasant surprise for me was Poppy’s job, and the way she related to it. I for one love my line of work, and as such I have grown kinda tired with the usual chick lit heroines who are trapped in office jobs that they hate and sometimes they’re quite bad at. Poppy on the other hand is a physiotherapist (she had relatives in the dental field and initially had wanted to become a dentist herself, but then she thought she wouldn’t limit herself to just teeth :) ). It is obvious throughout the book that she loves her job, she does it well, and she cares for her patients’ welfare. I cannot begin to say how much I liked that.
Although I don’t think I could have resisted Poppy even without the job component. She is quirky and funny and very, very nice (sometimes she lets people step all over her because of that); she is a bit impulsive (as all the chick lit heroines, they kinda need this trait to land their troubles :) ), but not so much as to make her do really stupid things.
I also liked Sam quite a bit. He’s also a typical chick lit hero (a career guy, making good money and having a heart of gold), but there is more to him than that. I was particularly amused by his emails (“Yes. Sam”), and the way they never had a word more than they needed to. He starts out as this unfeeling guy, neglecting people at his company because he never had the time plus what did he care it was one of them’s birthday anyway? I actually like this attitude in a way: at such a big firm, he could hardly be expected to get to care about most of his colleagues, and he chose not to say things out of mere complaisance. He doesn’t actually care what most others thinks of him (a trait I have always envied :) ) and never shies away from awkward conversations. As the story enfolds we get to find out more about what he hides behind the cold facade: he’s funny, and reliable, and smart, and loyal; and he does have friends & good, healthy relationships in his life (despite what Poppy initially thought :) ).
And then there is the matter of both characters’ growth throughout the book. They start out at different ends of the spectrum (Poppy’s always wanting to please others + Sam’s being very much the opposite), and each of them gets to learn that sometimes there are cases that require a different strategy. I liked that, and I also liked the way the relationship between the two of them evolved, from distant to more and more intimate (none of that ‘love/lust at first sight’ stuff, just two people getting to know each other and liking what they discover).
What I liked
The whole getting to know each other by texting back and forth was quite a novel idea (for me at least, it is the first book I read where this element is present), and quite a well-done one too. I liked that they both felt the difference between their intimacy in writing (where they slowly became close friends) and their awkwardness in real life (where they treated each other like the random acquaintances they actually were). And I liked the way their texts changed over time, becoming warmer :)
(ah, what can I say, I am a sucker for a good relationship-developed-in-writing story :) )
Two quotes I thought were nice:
Poppy’s thoughts during a meal with her future in-laws, the ones that always intimidated her:
We’re halfway through the Bolognese, and I haven’t uttered a single word. It’s too hard. The conversation is like a juggernaut. Or maybe a symphony. Yes. And I’m the flute. And I do have a tune, and I’d quite like to play it, but there’s no conductor to bring me in. So I keep drawing breath, then chickening out.
It’s been quite addictive, scrolling down the endless strings of back-and-forth emails and working out the stories. Always backward. Like rewinding little spools of life.
What I did not like
This is where I show off my nitpicky side.
First of all, there was the matter of the footnotes. I found them to be a cute idea (Poppy got into the habit of using footnotes after reading Magnus’ book, when she discovered they can be quite useful — “you just bung them in whenever you want and instantly look clever” :) ), and pretty well executed. But. They are a total nightmare when it comes to reading on a Kindle. I never knew where the actual footnote will end up, and I had to scroll a few pages forward looking for it, and then of course I had to go back a few pages to where I was; and then, a few lines later, another footnote, and I had to scroll again. And again, and again. Eventually I gave up and ignored the footnotes altogether, but I do feel like I missed some of the fun because of that. If you have a choice between the Kindle version and the paper, by all means do choose the latter.
However, if there is one thing I did not like about this book that is… the heroine’s name (I know, I told you I was gonna be nitpicky). But… Poppy? It seems to be a bit too childish to be taken seriously. Again, I liked the character herself quite a bit, it is the name that I am not fond of.
Thoughts on the title
Not glamorous, but it does describe the book quite well :)
Thoughts on the ending
I very much enjoyed the ending, of course.
Recommend it to?
Anyone in the mood for a chick lit book :)
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