Monday, January 2, 2023

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

 I'm doing an audit of my bookshelves as part of my New Year's Resolution and trying to read and get rid of some of my physical copies. TWENTIES GIRL is actually a reread. I read it for the first time when I was pretty young and I believe I gave it five stars because somehow it ended up in my "keepers" box. I wanted to give it a reread and see if I felt the same way about it now as I did then and... sadly I did not. It was still a good read but couldn't quite hold up to the test of time.

Sophie Kinsella does this thing I don't really like where she makes all of her heroines pathological liars. It's supposed to be cute and quirky but instead all it does is make her heroines look like little psychopaths. SHOPAHOLIC, for me, was the worst, as it portrayed someone with a very serious and concerning problem as lighthearted and fun. For years, SHOPAHOLIC put me off Kinsella because of how much I hated that heroine. That trope is present in TWENTIES GIRL as well, albeit to a slightly lesser extent and to be honest, it makes a little more sense in TWENTIES because the premise is so ridiculous.

When Lara goes to the funeral of her great aunt Sadie, whom she never met, it's a bit underwhelming. Nobody's there, there's no flowers or food or music. Everyone feels very begrudging about their wasted time, including Lara's rich uncle, a social media influencer-cum-coffee mogul who lords his wealth over the rest of the family. Just before the cremation, however, Lara is haunted by a vision of Sadie as a girl in her twenties, who screams at her to stop the ceremony because SHE NEEDS HER NECKLACE, and after lots of screaming and heckling, Lara does the only thing she can think of: lies to everyone that there's been a murder and that Sadie's nursing home must have been responsible.

With Sadie watching her every move, Lara halfheartedly does a search for the necklace, and the ghostly hijinks result in various shenanigans like mind-raping her ex-boyfriend into going out with her again and telling her he's still in love with her, sneaking into an office building and asking out a man that Sadie fancies looks like Rudolph Valentino, and going to a thrift store and buying used flapper clothes and-- cringe-- 1920s makeup for a fancy dinner date. None of this stuff aged very well and I found Lara a very hard heroine to like for most of the book (and Sadie was just as bad). But even with the weird ghost stuff, I liked the mystery of the necklace and the rom-com elements and I found myself thinking that this would make a nice movie. It also has a lovely ending that sort of made me tear up.

So I'd say that TWENTIES GIRL is an okay read. Not really Kinsella's best but not her worst either, and Lara grows from her experience and learns how to be a better person and to let people make their own choices while living life on their terms. 

3 out of 5 stars

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