Reviewing Sophie Kinsella’s My Not So Perfect Life

Stretching the truth on Instagram…we all do that don’t we? We pretend we ‘woke up like this’ when really it took 35 minutes to get the pillow creases from our face. No one wants to see pillow creases. What Katie Brenner does in Sophie Kinsella’s My Not So Perfect Life is take that one step further. She takes pictures of other people’s food and coffees when they are in the loo and posts it.

Yes. She does that.

When I read that I realised I couldn’t quite relate to Katie Brenner as much as I probably should have.

But I am getting ahead of myself – My Not So Perfect Life is actually about Cat – the reinvention of Katie when she comes to London from Somerset. She loses her accent, gets herself an edgier nickname, and gets a fringe. Working in a branding agency she has the outwardly perfect life. Of course in reality she has a room the size of a shoebox, a lowly admin job, and is jealous of her own Instagram feed. But she is in London and loves the city. She had a job even if her boss Demeter is jealousy inducing successful, scatty, and doesn’t have a lot of people skills. She is starting to make friends with the women she works with.

Things are looking up and then she’s fired. She is clever and she’s capable yet no company wants to pay her – if she’s willing to work for free and an intern somewhere else then a new job is hers somewhere else…

She, like everyone else, doesn’t want to do that so heads back home and Cat becomes Katie again helping her dad and stepmum launch their glamping business. Using her professional knowledge and branding skills the launch is a success and The Guardian even feature it. Of course Demeter reads The Guardian and turns up at the farm with her whole family. Katie realises that she can get her revenge but quickly discovers that from the outside, everyone’s life looks perfect and that Demeter might be as unhappy as she is.

What I didn’t mention is Alex, the love interest and that’s because he is a secondary character.  My Not So Perfect Life is about Katie and Demeter and their relationship.

There are a lot of great things about this book:

  • I love Demeter with a passion from the first time we meet her;
  • The relationship between Demeter and Katie is more reflective of real life than the ‘belief’ that all women hate each other;
  • The ending! THE ENDING. It was perfect. The right people got their comeuppance and the right people won in the best fashion possible;
  • It’s really gripping. Sophie Kinesella has a writing style I love and I was engrossed the whole time I was reading it, even reading when I wasn’t commuting. As a mainly commuter reader this really doesn’t happen with most books.

However I also had issues with My Not So Perfect Life:

It wasn’t as funny as I would have liked. Some moments I was laughing out loud. Other times it fell dead and during the revenge scenes instead of siding with Katie I just thought of her as being really unprofessional.

Instagram. The message of this book is that Instagram isn’t real life and Instagram shows a perfection which isn’t true. So you mean like makeup? Or changing your outfit hundreds of times before you settle on something you like? Instagram is the bits people chose to show to the world. No, people aren’t going to post their vomit covered loo after a night out – why would they? I am in the camp that believes that perfect is different for everyone and people’s Instagrams reflect their own version of perfection.

At the same time I think Katie takes her Instagram obsession too far. There are so many London pictures you can take without spending a penny and can showcase a certain lifestyle without taking pictures of someone else’s food while they are in the loo.

Diversity. Sophie Kinsella’s London was the biggest issue I had. Yes Katie loved it and her love reflects my own but I live in and am part of a London where there is diversity. Sophie Kinsella’s London is so whitewashed it hurts. The only person of colour was a teenage girl handing out leaflets from a poor part of town. And I can’t ever get on board with this. You talk about London in 2017? Then have some diversity.

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella is out now and available from all good and evil book retailers.

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