I read nearly this entire book while flying over the Atlantic Ocean, and it was a pretty good read. It has the same style and good writing/characterizations that I have come to expect from Sophie Kinsella.

I was perhaps more interested in the protagonist’s day to day goings-on at work than others might be  since I am in that industry. Sadly, the ridiculousness of her life was only mildly exaggerated. And I actually took a page from her book and applied it to my own life. I had a messy desk before this book. A messy desk where I always thought that I knew exactly where everything was, and I did–all except for the handful of things that I had forgotten about buried under the current work’s rubble.

The Undomestic Goddess is a kind of fun jaunt through a fantasy land. However, Samantha (the protagonist) becomes less and less real as time passes in the book. I like the play on the fantasy that we have all had about what it would belike if we could just pick up and leave it all… leave our life as it stands with nothing but a bus ticket and some cell-phone battery life left. No more possessions that we’re tied to, no job we are committed to, and no dealing with the complications that we’ve made for ourselves. In this aspect, I loved this book. And I loved how when she first arrives at the country house and is taken for a maid applying for work, she rolls with it. I have that same type of “fake it until you make it” personality. Her first disasters in the kitchen, in the laundry, even cleaning. I completely sympathize with that because I feel like am the dictionary definition of undomestic.

While it wouldn’t be chick lit without the hot gardener guy, who of course is onto her ruse, I was a little disappointed with how little effort it took for her to become a domestic goddess. I’ve tried cooking, again and again, and I’m here to tell you that what Samantha accomplished in one weekend’s training cannot be done in real life. And I know, I know, this is NOT about the real world, but the fantasy that it could be was going along so swimmingly until that point. And I was a little disappointed.

The point of chick lit is to help you escape, and I’ve found that it generally comes in three varieties. First, it’s utterly fantastical and it could never ever happen to a real person, but it’s well-written and the characters themselves have traits that you recognize in yourself or your girl friends. Second, it’s shockingly realistic, and then it pulls in some fantasy that many women have had and artfully weaves it into a story that almost makes you believe–my life could have been this way. And third, it’s fantastical, the characters are unrealistic, and there’s not a shred of anything in it that rings true to you. Obvioulsy, I like categories one and two. And I felt disappointed a little more than half-way through this book when I realized that it was a derailed category two, turned into a category three. Sad because I really liked Samantha.

My final beef with this story was the back and forth work thing and the whole “pseudo mystery” of how she really screwed up refiling the financing statement. I hated that it wasn’t her fault after all. Faults are what make us human. But then, she did learn how to be a gourmet cook in a weekend, so maybe she’s just not human. I detested her unrealism regarding the gardener hunk and her future, and I really really was let down that he threw over everything that his life meant to him to go to her. Sigh. There was a fabulous story of renewal, acceptance of self and others, and courage to grow that got lost inside this book. And I feel like it got lost because somewhere in the middle, the author started applying the “chick lit” formula to this story. Which is really too bad, because I would love to see this plot line done right. So I’ll have to throw this in the same rejected barrel as I threw The Country Life into a few months ago. Boo.

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