The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Hardcover, 371 pages, 2005

Rating: 6/10

Reason for Reading: I liked all of Kinsella’s previous books, so I took her new one out of the library.

Synopsis: The only thing Samantha Sweeting has ever wanted is to make partner at a top law firm, and she’s sacrificed a lot for it – namely, any semblance of a personal life and any activity that might be the least bit peaceful. Just before her partnership is sure to be announced, Samantha finds a problem while clearing off her desk. A big, big, huge problem that’s sure to cost her everything. Before she even knows what she’s doing, Samantha has hopped onto a train and is heading for the English countryside, where she quickly finds herself with a much simpler job offer on hand. Should she take it? Well, surely cooking and cleaning can’t be as hard as it sounds, and maybe she just wasn’t cut out for a career as a lawyer…was she?

Why you should read this book: Imagine the look that might creep onto the face of Miranda Hobbes of Sex and the City if you thrust a mop into her hand instead of a stack of case files, and you’ve got The Undomestic Goddess. Samantha’s stunning ineptitude at domestic chores and her resulting desperate fibs are certainly good for a few giggles. This book will probably entertain most of Kinsella’s fans, but it’s not the book to chose to endear her writing to new readers.

Why you should avoid this book: For a number of reasons, The Undomestic Goddess just never really gets off the ground. The plot ‘twist’ half-way through the story might be better labelled as a ‘slight curve’ – nothing is ever in doubt, and there’s just not enough happening for the story to be captivating. The characters are lacklustre, and Kinsella never seems to go very deeply into developing them, even Samantha. A lot more effort could have gone into The Undomestic Goddess; it’s decent, but lacking the zip and sparkle of Kinsella’s other novels.

Opening paragraph:

Would you consider yourself stressed?
No. I’m not stressed.
I’m…busy. Plenty of people are busy. I have a high-powered job, my career is important to me, and I enjoy it.
OK. So sometimes I do feel a bit tense. But I’m a lawyer in the City, for God’s sake. What do you expect?

My handwriting is pressing so hard into the page, I’ve torn the paper. Dammit. Nevermind. Let’s move on to the next question.

Fabulous quotes:

‘It’s got a catch,’ Trish says, watching me in surprise. ‘Underneath.’ She takes the board from me, and in two movements has opened it up to exactly the right height. ‘I expect you’re used to a different model,’ she adds wisely as she clicks it shut. ‘They all have their own little tricks.’
‘Absolutely!’ I say, seizing on this excuse in relief. ‘Of course! I’m far more used to working with a…a…a Nimbus 2000.’
Trish peers at me in surprise. ‘Isn’t that the broomstick out of Harry Potter?
Damn. I knew I’d heard it somewhere.
‘Yes…it is,’ I say at last, my face flaming. ‘And also a well-known ironing board. In fact, I think the broomstick was named…er…after the ironing board.’

Nathaniel gestures to me to sit down, and I cautiously take a seat on a wooden chair. The kitchen is at the back of the house and is filled with light and sun. Flowers in earthenware jugs are everywhere. There’s an old-fashioned range and a scrubbed wooden table and a stable door open to the outside. As I’m wondering whether I should be making conversation, a chicken wanders in and starts scratching at the ground.
‘Oh, a chicken!’ I exclaim before I can stop myself.
‘Yes, a chicken.’ I can see Iris looking at me with wry amusement. ‘Never seen a chicken before?’
Only in the supermarket chill counter.

Instead, try: To Have and to Hold by Jane Green; She’s Got Issues by Stephanie Lessing; The Big Love by Sarah Dunn.

Also by this author: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Shopaholic Takes Manhattan; Shopaholic Ties the Knot; Shopaholic & Sister; Can You Keep a Secret?.

Author’s website:

Fun tidbit: Kinsella had intended Shopaholic Ties the Knot to be the last in the series, but started writing Shopaholic & Sister when she started missing the main characters, Becky and Luke.

Would I read more by this author? Probably, but I’d really be hoping for much better quality.

&#169 Lisa Yanaky 2003-2005

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