Thursday, January 21, 2010

'Twenties Girl' is Classic Kinsella With Ghostly Twist

I'm not sure why I continue to somehow end up reading books with a supernatural twist, but this is the second book this week. I'm not usually a fantasy/ghost story reader, but my favorite authors are writing ghosts as main characters in their latest novels, which means I'm reading them!

Sophie Kinsella is the queen of good chick lit. I've read all her books prior to Twenties Girl, so despite the ghost story (a negative for me), I wasn't about to miss her latest novel. And I'm so glad I didn't skip over it. Because the unrealistic ghost addition is difficult for me to accept as I'm reading, it took me 60 pages or so to really become interested in Kinsella's ghost Sadie and her great-niece Lara. Once I could accept the ghost (ridiculous when I think about how much I enjoy Charlaine Harris & her Sookie Stackhouse books which include vampires, telepaths, fairies, and shapeshifters!), the story really took me away and made me forget that I was reading a "ghost story".

Lara is a twenty-something headhunter living in London. She has a loving family and a (seemingly) good job, but her world has begun to crash all around her in the weeks before the novel begins. Her longterm boyfriend Josh breaks things off; her best friend and business partner Natalie leaves her high and dry at their newly formed agency; and her great-aunt Sadie has passed away. Lara's family was never close to Sadie; in fact, Lara has no memory of ever visiting her at the nursing home where she spent her last days. But at the funeral, Sadie appears to Lara as a ghost. This ghost isn't your typical ghost, though. She's not old, she's not scary, and she isn't covered in a white sheet. Rather, she is Sadie as Sadie was in the late 1920s, a flapper with a keen fashion sense and a love for dancing the Charleston.

Sadie and Lara embark on a crazy, classic Kinsella adventure to find Sadie's lost necklace -- a necklace Sadie believes is the only thing which will bring her peace in the afterlife. Along the way Lara meets an American businessman who helps her keep her mind off Josh, she breaks into her rich coffee mogul uncle's home (think Starbucks, but bigger), and she crashes her cousin's couture fashion show. She also goes from being highly annoyed with Sadie to relying on her to help her learn information only a ghost who can float through walls and hover unnoticed would be privy to.

In Lara and Sadie, Kinsella creates two characters who are every bit as loveable as her Shopaholic protagonist Becky Bloomwood Brandon and all the rest from her stand-alone novels such as Can You Keep a Secret? and Remember Me?. Kinsella creates female characters who are much like all of us -- pretty in their own way, smart in their own way, and bumbling through some parts of their lives. Kinsella is a master at the happy ending with a twist, and Twenties Girl is no exception. All this from a simple statement from her U.S. editor: "You should write a ghost story." Kinsella has, and she has done it well.

For fun, a clip of 1920s-style Charleston dancers that Random House hired as part of its promotion for the book:

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