[Book Review] The Undomestic Goddess – Sophie Kinsella
I read all 400 pages of this paperback all in one day—practically in one sitting! However, this was not so much due to the fact that it was an exceptional read than it was due to the fact that I was terribly bored. Overall, while the novel was fairly successful at keeping me distracted from the reality of my ceaselessly mundane life, there were some pretty big flaws in it that would prevent me from reading it again anytime soon.
The Undomestic Goddess stars workaholic Samantha Sweeting who is so close to achieving her dream of becoming a partner at law firm Carter Spink when a terrible mistake threatens to ruin everything she has worked so hard for. She finds herself wandering in a state of shock until she reaches the home of the wealthy Geigers who mistakenly hire her as their new housemaid—a very huge mistake indeed considering she does not even know how to make toast or do the laundry. However, she slowly learns with the help of the (of course) very good-looking gardener and his mother and begins to grow as a person as she accepts this lifestyle. Considering this is a 400-page book as I’ve stated before, more trouble is bound to ensue, conflict that may again shake the foundations of her life, her new life as a housemaid. Is she going to have to say farewell to her romance with Nathaniel the gardener and her friendship with the eccentric Geigers? If you really want to know what happens, I suggest you read the novel, but you might want to finish reading this review first.
This book is a pretty easy read and definitely amusing at times with witty lines that come out of nowhere, making me smile. The characters are generally likeable and believable. Samantha Sweeting, like all of Sophie Kinsella’s heroines, is cute and charming—not to mention, a total wreck. There is also some good messages throughout the story that accompany her growth as a person from a high-strung lawyer who works way too much to a beloved housemaid who gets the weekends off to get some sun with her gorgeous new love interest. She learns a lot of things that are relevant in this time and age, such as, “Hey, ambition and money is good and all, but is it really worth you giving up your life and happiness?”
This book also has great descriptions of the yummy food she learns to cook and bake, making you want to just jump on the internet and find the recipes to try out for yourself. Remember, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Forget that, wouldn’t you want to just cook some “braised lamb and baby onion assemblé with a fondant potato and goat’s cheese crust, accompanied by cardamom spinach puree” for yourself?! I don’t even like to eat lamb, but that sounds like a meal I would not hesitate to tackle.
Despite these few good aspects of the novel, there are many more flaws that cannot be ignored. The story just seems way too unrealistic. How stupid can the Geigers be, really? While Samantha and Nathaniel may be believable characters, the Geigers are a bit too eccentric for me to take them seriously. I’m sure there may be people like them in this universe, yes, but I’m not really buying their stupidity and naivety in this novel. How Samantha gets away with being their housemaid for the first few days despite her complete lack of relevant skills is beyond me. Yes, she has the money to fix her mistakes without them knowing and all, but this really is not sufficient for all her failures. This is probably why the Geiger characters were portrayed to be so clueless. They had to be clueless in order for the story to work. Well, let me tell you, it did not really work quite so well as Sophie Kinsella may have hoped.
Not only was the story unrealistic, everything was also expected. Even the big plot twist that threatens to change Samantha’s new lifestyle as a housemaid was expected. I called that many, many, many chapters beforehand. Lastly, it was just, too, hm … wishy washy? The end was just frustrating in some ways because Samantha could not make up her mind. She decides on one thing then decides on another; it just happens too often in a short amount of time to the point where I want to throw down the book and pretend I had finished it already.
Despite the fact that there are obviously some serious problems with the novel, I would still recommend that you try it out if you are ever really, truly bored (like I was that day). I mean, you can’t really expect anything more from a Sophie Kinsella novel, can you? You can’t expect something very deep and meaningful from the author since she is known for excelling in outrageous, comedic situations that would never happen in real life. So if you liked some of her previous works, I do recommend you try this one, as well. It is an easy read and good for some amusement. However, if you really want to get something out of a novel, something more profound or emotionally striking, then I strongly suggest picking up another book for now.