by Sophie Kinsella
This weekend,” she says, sotto voce. “It’s mad. It’s the maddest ever party, ever.” “Agreed.” “I can’t believe you’ve stayed hidden this long,” she adds. “You must want to leap out and say, Surprise!” “Nope,” I say. “Not even a tiny part of you?” I try to imagine Krista’s face if I popped up from under the brunch table, brandishing a pair of cheerleader’s pom-poms, yelling, It’s me! I mean, it would be quite funny. Until the recriminations and carnage began.
There’s a moment of silence—then I lift my chin firmly and walk into Greenoaks. Effie Talbot is in the house.
This book was a pure joy. It’s not deep, there are no serious issues tackled unless you count the importance of family and keeping the lines of communication open (hardly an uncommon message in chick lit, or women’s fiction if you will, or, OK, just fiction) I teared up a couple of times near the end, but it was hardly heart-rending. But it was one of those books that I not only enjoyed but made me happy. It took me back to those rare times when reading a book just engulfed me. Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt when I was a pre or young teen, Barbara Michaels and Georgette Heyer a little later, and recently, Milly Johnson, Kristan Higgins, and Mhairi MacFarlane. Also, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Effie as well as her brother and sister, have been estranged from their father since his divorce from their beloved stepmother and his new relationship with the avaricious but sexy schemer, Krista. To her horror, she learns the two are selling their huge, quirky, and beloved childhood home. Krista is throwing a big “House-cooling” Party, to which Effie, who has been Krista’s main antagonist, was not properly invited.
She decides to secretly infiltrate the party to save a precious childhood treasure. She hides in attics, secret alcoves, under tables, and behind bushes, all the while observing and listening to all of the goings-on. She learns a lot and is eventually aided by her sister and brother and her ex, Joe, her first love who broke her heart. The set-up is genius. It promises adventure, suspense, comedy, ah-ha! and oh no! moments, and romance. It delivers on all counts. And of course, we have some twists and surprises for the reader as well as Effie. All of the beautifully realized characters have their stories which, needless to say, all come to satisfying resolutions. It’s one of those books that you want to read slower so it will last but just can’t help just gobbling up. I think I need to add a special shelf on GoodReads for books like these.
November 11, 2021