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Fiction

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

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. 😀


There are more gems of wisdom in this book though:

“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

Rating: 4/5

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.

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About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.

Discussion

11 thoughts on “The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

  1. Yay!

    We are now officially on the same page. This book too is my favorite from the same author.

    Plot-wise, it is unbelievable. And how could a partner material takes all the condescending comments? I suppose that is to do with the genre.

    She is a senior from my university! I wanted to comment that we may even have bumped each other. But that would give away too much of my age!

    Posted by Wilfrid | January 16, 2011, 4:55 am
  2. This sounds like a fun read!

    Posted by Mel u | January 16, 2011, 7:00 am
    • Mel, it is a fun read Mel. Why don’t you try it? I’m sure your girls will love it too. Just tell them that never, never, ever throw away their careers for a man! lol 😉

      Posted by JoV | January 16, 2011, 12:11 pm
  3. Wonderful review, Jo! ‘The Undomestic Goddess’ is one of my alltime favourite novels! I loved the scene where Samantha discovers that she has to actually cook and clean and use the owen! I also liked the way the book depicts the life of a busy professional, always keeping an eye on the Blackberry. I loved that conversation with Mrs Farley too 🙂 On the ending, when looked at that way – giving up a successful career for a man – it doesn’t look so good. But I somehow looked at it in a different way – giving up a fast-paced life, where there is no time to enjoy the simple pleasures, for a life where one can do things slowly and enjoy each thing one is doing. Not many people will give up a six-figure salary to do that though 🙂 But I know a few who have given up successful careers for the quiet life and are very happy and contented.

    Posted by Vishy | January 23, 2011, 5:11 am
    • Vishy, I agree with you! I love the adrenaline of the fast-paced life, but inside me occasionally I am a bum and like to have the time to curl up and read a good book! I suppose such lifestyle can only be sustained for awhile, one got to know where to stop. When he or she earned enough, it’s time to sit back and enjoy life a little. 🙂

      Posted by JoV | January 23, 2011, 10:53 am
  4. I agree that this is the best of Kinsella’s books, though I haven’t yet read Twenties Girl. I think the Shopaholic series is fun, but there is so much wrong with Becky, and I actually grew tired of her in the most recent book because she will just never learn. Enough is enough, but I still enjoyed it in a guilty pleasure kind of way.

    Posted by Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) | February 3, 2011, 2:51 pm
    • Anna, oh I think the same about Becky. I think she is so pea-brained and I can’t stand her very long. Thank Goodness I only read about Becky once every 2 years! lol 😀 Guilty pleasure is what I feel about reading Kinsella’s books. But I like Undomestic Goddess (I always tend to spell it undomesticated, I think there isn’t such a word as Undomestic!) and I’ll read Kinsella’s standalone novels. 🙂

      Posted by JoV | February 4, 2011, 9:28 am

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  1. Pingback: I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella « JoV's Book Pyramid - March 16, 2012

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Mockingjay
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City


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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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