Book Review: “My (Not So) Perfect Life” by Sophie Kinsella

The Lowdown:

Named on the Goodreads 2017 “Reading Challenge: Top New Releases” , I thought I should give another Sophie Kinsella novel a read – and I am glad I did!

Katie Brenner, a country farm girl from Somerset, has had one goal her whole life – to succeed in London. The protagonist struggles to find her identity in a world that is obsessed with the images that people portray online and in real life. Working as a research associate at a large branding agency in London, Katie changes her image and even her accent to reinvent herself as “Cat”. Persisting to remain optimistic – through her long city commute, tedious work tasks, her tight budget, a tiny room whereby an overhanging hammock is her closet, and oddball roommates – Katie’s expectations of the “perfect London life” fall short. Despite this, Katie is adamant on remaining upbeat and portraying an image of perfection on her Instagram page. 

As Katie’s life seems like it is becoming on track in terms of career, love-life, and fitting in with her colleagues, she gets fired. Determined to stay positive, Katie moves back to Somerset, where she helps her father and his partner start up a successful “glamping” business. Unexpectedly, her two worlds collide when her controlling boss from London shows up on holiday at her father’s farm. In attempts to get revenge on her boss while at the glamping retreat, Katie learns that other people’s lives are not as perfect as they seem. Secrets are spilled, relationships are redefined, and discoveries are revealed. Throughout the novel, Katie’s missteps allow her reconcile various aspects of her identity. As Katie’s future gets higher in becoming closer to achieving her dreams, she is faced with questioning her own assumptions about the “perfect” life.

Relevant to contemporary social issues, the lighthearted, satirical novel highlights the lack of correlation between perception and reality. Although rather predictable, this novel made me laugh and was a delight to read!

Issues explored:

  • Social media
  • Perception vs. Reality
  • False judgements
  • Workplace bullying
  • Self-discovery

 Significant quotes:

  • “Every time you see someone’s bright-and-shiny, remember: They have their own crappy truths too. Of course they do. And every time you see your own crappy truth and feel despair and think, ‘Is this my life?’, remember: It’s not. Everyone’s got a bright-and-shiny, even if it’s hard to find sometimes.”
  • “Whoever started the rumor that life has to be perfect is a very wicked person, if you ask me.”
  • “Because it’s human nature to hope for impossible things. You’re in marketing. You know that.”
  • “It’s amazing how an otherwise intelligent person can become a credulous fool as soon as you mention the words “organic,” “authentic,” and “Gwyneth Paltrow.””
  • “The whole thing is like a feel-good movie, and what’s wrong with that? Loads of people use colored filters or whatever on Instagram. Well, my filter is the “this is how I’d like it to be” filter… And the point is, it’s something to aspire to, something to hope for. One day my life will match my Instagram posts. One day.”

Life Lessons:

  • People, as well as situations, are not always as they seem to be.
  • The “perfect” life does not exist.
  • Don’t believe everything you read or see on social media.
  • Be true to yourself – there is no need to set up a false image.
  • Question perceptions and judgements.

Rating: 3.5/5

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