Welcome to Samantha Sweeting’s world. She’s one of the brightest lawyers at Carter Spink and She works all hours never had any weekends off, she has no life and spent the 12 years in her life wanting only one thing: To be a senior partner of Carter Spink, one of London’s prestigious law firm. So busy that she depends on her caring neighbour to receive her mails and do other things for her.
Until one day…. she made a huge mistake. A mistake so huge, it wrecks her career and her chance to be a partner. She caused a client to lose £50 million.
It’s over, my entire career. Everything I’ve worked for since I was 12 years old. All gone. Everything ruined. In 24 hours. – Samantha
She walks right out of the office, gets on the first train she sees, in a daze she finds herself in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big mansion, she is mistaken for an interview candidate for a housekeeping job. She was offered a job by her employers, the Griegers. They have no idea they’ve hired a Cambridge-educated lawyer with an IQ of 158, but the trouble is Samantha has no idea how to work an oven.
But nobody is as shocked as Samantha when she realizes she must cook and clean for these people. Never has trying to turn on the oven been so problematic especially for someone who is “supposed” to be trained under “Michel de la Roux de la Blanc” in a Cordon Bleu school.
Disaster follows, as Samantha battles with the washing machine, the ironing board, attempts to cook a cordon bleu dinner. But she soon began to love her new life in a wholly unexpected way.
Will her employers ever discover the truth? Will Samantha’s old life catch up with her? And if it does… will she want it back?
Finally! A book written by Kinsella that I could relate to!
The Undomestic Goddess (UG) includes corporate political intrigue and domestic chaos. Underneath the veneer of humour and exaggerated mishaps, the important question of feminism and work-life balance hovers in my head.
Samantha soon begins to see that being the Greiger’s housekeeper is far different than working as a lawyer at Carter Spink. She gets weekends off. She starts counting the time by hours instead of minutes. She hasn’t known what the word idyllic is like! And now with so much time on her hands, Samantha begins to notice little things around her, her new changed environment, and the handsome gardener, Nathaniel.
This book, however, bears all the familiar stamp of Kinsella’s female characters. It has uncanny similarities to the Becky Bloomwood of Kinsella’s Shopaholic series. A psychotic heroine (with a lesser degree in this book, as I find Samantha more sensible). They both fall in love with men they were not initially attracted to, and they both have best friends who are married to elite men and who will go to great lengths to help them.
There are several flaws to the book, reading in the rigour of a corporate career woman. I don’t for one minute believe that a self respecting professional would take all that condescending treatments by the employer. And is it true Samantha actually contemplates giving up a 6 figures salary to become a housekeeper?!! *Shock!*
I know, I know I am not supposed to take chick-lit that serious but I just can’t help it. 😀
“It doesn’t matter,’ Iris says, her voice soft. Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing all the answers. You don’t always have to know who you are. You don’t have to have the big picture, or know where you’re heading. Sometimes it’s enough just to know what you’re going to do next.’ – pg 242
“I have never been good at waiting.” – Samantha waiting for the yeast to work on the bread. – pg 246
If I’ve learned one thing from everything that’s happened to me, it’s that there is no such thing as the biggest mistake of your existence. There’s no such thing as ruining your life. Life’s a pretty resilient thing, it turns out. – pg 347
I feel funny about Kinsella’s books. I didn’t love the Shopaholic series that much yet I wasn’t turned off of Kinsella as an author. In fact with this book, I am convinced Kinsella has more brains than she lets on. The Undomestic Goddess is ranked as my favourite Kinsella’s novel. Perhaps I relate to the story at a deeper level with the struggle to strike a balance between career and family, and it has always been a contentious issue for me. And Yes, I do know how to work an oven, but I am not a Domestic Goddess. And Yes, the English countryside is very quaint and very beautiful. 🙂
I enjoyed Samantha Sweeting so much more than Becky Bloomwood, I will read Kinsella’s other standalone novels when I need some break from mind boggling, heavy reading.
What I like most about the book: Finally, one chick-lit about an ambitious female protagonist that I could relate to!
What I like least about the book: Unbelievable plot. The plan to give up a great career for a man just turn my stomach! 😦
I’ll leave you with this piece of conversation between Samantha and Mrs Farley, her lovely neighbour.
‘In my days’, says Mrs Farley, shaking her head, ‘all well-educated girls were taught how to sew on a button, darn a sock and turn a collar.’
‘Well , in my day we weren’t.’ I reply politely. ‘We were taught to study for our exams and get a career worth having. We were taught to have opinions, we were taught how to use our brains,’ I can’t resist adding.
Mrs Farley looks me up and down for a few moments. ‘It’s a shame’, she says at last, and gives me a sympathetic pat on the arm.
‘How is it a shame?’ I demand, stepping out of my doorway. ‘How? OK, maybe I can’t sew on a button. But I can restructure a corporate finance agreement and save my client 30 million pounds. That’s what I can do.’
Mrs Farley regards me from her door way. If anything she looks more pitying than before. ‘It’s a shame, Goodnight, dear’. She closes the door and I emit a squeal of exasperation.
‘Did you never hear of feminism?” I cry at her door.
But there’s no answer.
Not reading this for any challenge but for pure pleasure.
Paperback. Publisher: Black Swan, 2006. Length: 416 pages, Setting: Contemporary Britain. Source: Own. Finished reading at New Year’s day 2011.