After the success of the ‘Shopaholic’ series, I’ve been a keen Sophie Kinsella fan, and ‘Twenties Girl’ has done nothing to change this. However, I do believe that this is one of her weaker novels, with constant slips in style, particularly with regard to the main character, Lara.
These slips occurred mainly in Lara’s speech: occasionally it would include a word or phrase that didn’t quite suit her careful, over-thinking character, and instead of showing Lara opening up her mind, it just sounded awkward and rather embarrassing. At one point, she says to Sadie, ‘you rock!’, which would sound absolutely fine if someone who was normally optimistic, but as a constant analyst, this seemed like too big a slip to match any developments in Lara’s character.
However, the storyline was incredibly touching: being able to have a second chance to know a departed family member, who will then change your life enormously through the process, allowed Kinsella to add her own twist on the typical ghost-story genre. Sadie’s selfishness was able to break through the usually profound nature of ghostly visits in order to show that even the afterlife can be selfish, as well as reinforcing that, at heart, we all just want to remain the twenty year-old with the world at their feet. Personally, it also resonated with the idea that losing your memory does not mean losing your identity: old age does not stop the elderly wanting to live again.
The only thing lacking in the storyline was Josh’s role: I felt a bit like I needed more from him in order to understand just how drastically Sadie had changed Lara’s life; although Kinsella does illustrate the significant growth in her character with Lara’s newfound relationship with Ed Harrison, it could have been magnified. On that note, Ed’s role was also underused as the knight in shining armour, as he showed Lara’s transition but I feel like I would have liked to have understood him a bit more in order to see how they both healed one another. Similarly, I would have liked to have known a little bit more about Natalie in order to comprehend how a friendship could be so badly misinterpreted, to the brink of financial ruin.
The headhunter business was probably one of the more difficult careers to follow, although Kinsella pulled it off, as only in that situation could Sadie really leave a lasting imprint to help Lara and ‘Magic Search’; this feat would definitely have been more difficult with another career where a path is sketched out for you, as opposed to one where you have to forge your own way without help.
The background story of the necklace and the painting was probably the best part of the novel, as it provided both an ending and an unexpected addition: Kinsella could have easily left the novel at Sadie being boisterous and then helping Lara when realising how much she needed Ed and her career. Until the painting was said to be in the National Gallery, I did not realise Bill Lington’s real role within the novel, and seeing him getting his comeuppance was a wonderful dose of karma that the novel sorely needed in order to show the universe does have a structure (even if that structure does send dead relatives to guide us!). It also helped to show that the little man can dominate, bringing in the old classic of good versus evil which is subtly embedded to allow the underdog to triumph.
‘Twenties Girl’ is a must for all Sophie Kinsella fans, as even though it doesn’t top the hilarious ‘Shopaholic’ series (what could?!), it is a fresh, fun read, perfect as a pick-me-up for anyone who wants to see a little fish dominate the big pond.