I recently went to Barnes & Noble with my loving wonderful boyfriend to purchase actual books. Said loving wonderful boyfriend was there to purchase the latest in the Game of Thrones series, a new biography of President Obama and a biography of Andrew Jackson. Do you think his loving wonderful girlfriend purchased similarly sophisticated, intellectual books? If so, you are wrong. I was there for chick lit/beach reads only, i.e. The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham (aka Sophie Kinsella), Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes (my new favorite author) and Where We Belong by Emily Giffin (the latest from the author of book-turned-movie Something Borrowed et. al.). I’m pretty sure all three covers were pink, and I’m pretty sure our cashier’s expression was one of pure judgment.
As stated above, Madeleine Wickham is actually Sophie Kinsella of Shopaholic fame. (I’m not sure which one is her real name, though?) My sister will definitely agree that Madeleine/Sophie has a tendency to write unbelievably irritating protagonists, girls you truly cannot identify with or feel sympathy for because they are so mind-numbingly stupid. I read her books regardless because a) the other characters are usually very likeable and b) when I read books by British authors I read them in a British accent in my head and that makes them quite hilarious.
I was disappointed that The Gatecrasher wasn’t all that funny, but it was enjoyable nonetheless because it was quick and about high(ish) London society, a new favorite topic of mine. I mean, they just have so many RULES! The protagonist is Fleur, a fabulous 40-year-old — think Samantha Jones but with long red hair — who strives to meet wealthy men via funerals and memorial services. That is, she hits ON the widowers AT the services (told you they were unlikable). There’s something different about her latest conquest, though, and she becomes more invested in him than she had planned. Throughout the story we find out she has a daughter but she doesn’t want anything to do with the father and she really just needs to get Richard’s (the latest conquest) money and get out of his house in Greyworth but she can’t because she really likes it and him so she doesn’t know what to do anymore.
What surprised me about this story is how Richard never finds out that she is just a gold digger; she really almost takes all his money and leaves until the last, like, two pages, when her daughter convinces her not to. (Side note: There are some gross parts about her daughter, 13, and Richard’s son, 15, making out, even though they know they are basically about to become step-siblings. Um, ew. But I bet that would make a good follow-up book.) There is also a very serious part of the story regarding Richard’s daughter’s horrible marriage and a suicide attempt — I know British humor is different from ours, but I was slightly uncomfortable with the lightness of those topics.
So if you have read and enjoyed any of the Shopaholic books I recommend this, but first I’d recommend the other Madeleine Wickham I’ve read because I liked it more: The Wedding Girl.
Next up: Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes