Not one for ‘Chicklit’ (gosh – I’m actually using the word!) I have, in the past, read two sets of novels of this genre. The first book I read is the one you all know – the one that got made into those not-too-bad films with the American playing a Brit and possibly spawned this genre. The second, the hilarious Shopaholic series, although I couldn’t bring myself to see that film. Both books were recommended to me by highly respected friends and after some protestation I gave in and read them all. Similarly Naked in Knightsbridge was recommended to me by a writer on Twitter.
My immediate reaction took a little while to shake off; like Shopaholic, each chapter starts of with a letter from a bank manager or other creditor. Yes the heroine is broke and atrocious with money not to mention her penchant for shopping and a dangerous addiction to food but worst of all, Jools is work-shy. So will I have some empathy with her?
Then there were some odd moments like why wouldn’t Jools have a camera when every mobile in recent years has a one in the era of advertising on e-bay? And where in London did she find toilets at a tube station?! (Do tell!).The letters seemed quaintly old fashioned in 2009 when even the banks are happy to email messages. But these are just little observations….
Like I said, it took a little while to shake of the comparison to the Shopaholic series but halfway through I made the decision to brush that aside and soon found myself racing through the handily short chapters. I like short chapters. Ms Schmidt has that wonderful talent of putting twists in the plot and adding to traits to her characters to keep you reading to the end.
The fact that this is the fastest book I have read in recent years – well the fastest one that wasn’t biographical and therefore semi-filled with photographs – says something. Even better than an enjoyable read, I’ve finally admitted to myself that what I write is going to appeal to almost this very audience. (Not quite the same – goodness knows what Chicklit readers will say about my views on why women should pay their own way and life isn’t just about finding a man and getting the latest bag). I was surprised to see Chicklit has its own section in my library.
Unlike the Chicklit reviews, I didn’t find this book hilarious and indeed some parts were downright disheartening – I didn’t enjoy reading about a grown woman rummage for food in skips and not in a hip, green way and even though I can barely get through a day without cake, I felt positively nauseous at the amount of food Jools got through in a single sitting. Eventually, I did warm to her for some of the time and I assure you there are enough laugh out loud moments to keep the page turning.
I would have liked the ending to have seen Jools become level headed and standing on her own two feet but I see why Ms Schmidt took us to where she did. The last quarter will certainly have you gripped. Maybe Hollywood will come calling again? I see Kate Winslet in the Jools role.
Right, time to get back to the writing.
7½/10 Inspiration factor 9/10