By Sophie Kinsella
“Family bloody first. I’m not saying Dad was wrong, I’ll never say that, but maybe I’m starting to see “family” differently. It’s not just the people you share genes with; it’s the people you share loyalty and friendship and respect with. It’s the people you love.”
This was a delightfully typical Sophie Kinsella. She is a master at wanting to make me slap some sense into her heroines while simultaneously adoring them. I loved Fixie. Yes, she was very frustrating due to her letting her brother and sister walk all over her, and her blindness and delusion as to her childhood crush’s true nature. The reader is so far ahead of her in seeing what her family and Ryan are doing to her that you just itch for her to finally see the light. It takes quite a while! You think she is going to see clearly and act accordingly, but she just is not strong enough. When both her family and their beloved Farr’s housewares store is in shambles and her horror at disappointing and hurting her mother finally cause her to turn the corner for good, it is all the sweeter and more satisfying. Kinsella doesn’t take the quick route here. When she finally fixes things, it is not by giving her brother and sister the hell they richly deserve. It is out of love and concern for them and her own kind and generous nature, which never wavers. Kinsella gives us a glance at a childhood trauma, that helps us understand her better, and gave me more patience with her than I normally would have had.
The love interest, Seb, is wonderful and has a little more depth than some of her early heroes. He loves and appreciates her but also tells her a few home truths about herself and her family that is one step in her growth and change.
“I think you need to start thinking less about what you owe other people and more about what you owe yourself.”
He is a strong presence and her port in the storm until she makes some mistakes. Luckily, though painful, the separation is not drawn out, and in the long run, it was good that her family and business had her full attention at last. Family first!
The ending is the best ever, with everyone and everything coming together at the end. She could have ended it sooner and I still would have given it 5 stars, but I love that we finally saw the mother back home again, and her family whole and happy and giving Fixie her full credit for everything she fixed. I loved Jake’s reformation. He was so awful for so long, despite Fixie’s efforts, It was hard to believe. The complete turn around at last about gave me whiplash, but I loved it.
The narrator, Fiona Hardingham, was superb. Her intonation and accents made the bad guys, Ryan, Jake, and Uncle Ned even more hateful, and really made Leila, Nicole, and the rest of the secondary characters come alive. Her reading of Nicole made me want to laugh, roll my eyes, and shake her all at once.
If the last two books are any indication, Sophie Kinsella is just getting better and better over the years. Her books are still light and fluffy, with lot’s of humor, but she has developed some seriousness and depth as well. **5 out of 5 stars**
April 29, 2019