16-Aug-2011

Chick Lit fest

This time, during my visit home, I decided to indulge in my favourite brainless reading – chick lit.

Before we go on, I must clarify that chick lit is not the same as romance. The latter, I could somehow never really digest. Handsome dark heroes, who catch their innocent (or stupid), blue-eyed, blonde heroines in the grip of passion is not my thing. However, give me a lazy day, with a brain too fed up to process too much and I am happy to read a mindless woman-centric story.

This time, I borrowed the latest novel in the Shopoholic series. I was introduced to Sophie Kinsella through Undomestic Goddess. This book told the story of a burned-out female lawyer who is forced to get away for a while from the heat at work. She somehow ends up working as a cook cum housekeeper in the house of a nouveau riche couple. The story is about how she blunders through the job, falls in love with the gardener and makes her peace with her career. It was mostly light and funny and provided an excellent escape outlet for anyone who has ever daydreamed about stopping to question her job.

Then I moved on to the Shopaholic series. The first book was quite funny too (especially given my secret shopping addiction. Not as drastic as the protagonist but enough to sympathize with the glint-in-the-eye that comes from knowing there is a sale in your favourite shop). Unfortunately the series became progressively worse. There is a limit to how much you can stretch the shopping addiction bit. Surely everyone grows up after a while.

Which is why Mini-Shopaholic continued in the same vein of being quite unconvincing and trying to find the funny moments as the shopaholic’s daughter begins to shop.

If you are in a mood for Sophie Kinsella, then try Undomestic Goddess and Shopaholic

The next pick was Nanny Returns, the sequel to the supremely successful The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. The first book told the story of Nan Schuester, an educated college graduate who works as a nanny to Grayer, the progeny of the successful New York couple stereotype – rich father who works in investment banking and the trophy wife mother who puts up with all kinds of nonsense, including her husband’s affairs. The book provided an interesting insight the dark side of the Upper East Side world, a world that looks absolutely fascinating in various movies and sitcoms. Infact, I would classify the book as regular fiction given that the book was never superficial despite its easy-to-be-lost-in-stereotype premise and was based on strong field experience.

The sequel unfortunately is not quite as well written. The premise here is interesting. Twelve years have passed and Nan is no longer the wide-eyed innocent young girl. She has a business of her own, is married and is back in New York. She ends up meeting Grayer and sets out to help him and is once again plunged into the dark side of the glamourous finance set. The book has been updated for current events – MMS scandals, privileged kids, the mayhem in finance and so on. Yet, halfway through the book, I was bored and just ended up abandoning it.

The two books vetted my appetite for a rereading of my favourite chick lit, Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding. One of the things I realized about the earlier two novels was that I really did not like the movie versions. The Shopoholic heroine was dumb and old-looking. Scarlett Johansson was nice in the Nanny Diaries but somehow I could not picture her going through the story in the sequel. On the other hand, Rene Zellweger added to the Bridget Jones character and was brilliant as the average-IQ, thirty-something singleton who goes through life hoping to fall in love, having a good set of friends, changing jobs, handling menopausal parents and so on.

So in between my other reading, it has been a few pages a day just before going to bed. I fall asleep chuckling over the mundane yet quirky life of Bridget Jones.





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