May your lives always live up to your Instagram posts… – Sophie Kinsella.
I don’t think I’ve needed an escape in the form of a Sophie Kinsella book more than this moment in my life. It is as witty with laugh-out-loud-laughs as I thought it would be and I am extremely keen to read all of the Confessions of a Shopaholic series, which I can tell will be on my wavelength without the topics of journalism and money even coming into question. The book in question is My Not So Perfect Life which is every single twenty-something year old millennial, aiming for the stars and working for something, but it doesn’t quite go to plan. The story follows Katie Brenner, a twenty-six year old who grew up on a farm in Somerset who is living the London high life, starting out in her career and loving every second of it… or not.
She has an Instagram page where she posts the ultimate high life photographs: an incredible hot chocolate (not hers) in a quirky café, a scrumptious cupcake (also not hers) from a lovely little store and photos from popular Insta-worthy locations dotted around London which takes her half an hour on a sweaty tube to get to. In reality, she lives in a flat share where her room consists of a single bed, just enough floor space to shuffle about in and a hammock which swings above her head containing all her things. You can imagine one of the scenarios that occurs during the early chapters of the novel.
The First Career Blip
A lot of us are extremely career driven. Everywhere we turn it’s #GIRLBOSS, #careergoals, #dreamteam, #lifeambition and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that; I, myself, am striving to perfecting that career one day, whether it is my current career of marketing or my absolute dream of writing for a living. For us, if anything bad happened, even the tiniest of blips, we fall into a pit of worry and stress which swirls around us darkening and enclosing, strangling us until we literally cannot cope any more and our careers, and lives, are over. For Katie, it’s a pretty huge blip and there goes her dream of living in London: straight down the black pit of despair.
Living With Parents
She goes from living alone and independently to relying on her dad and step-mum for everything vital: a roof over her head, food to eat, a bit of positivity here and there. In return, she puts her branding and marketing head fully into the new business on the family farm and helps launch it into a huge success. I can relate to moving back in with parents, not the whole business-launch part, as I have done it twice since moving out when I was eighteen. I moved to London to go to university, then to Spain for university and back to London before moving around and living abroad for a couple of months again. Then, I moved back home full time when I was 22 and stayed up until travelling to Australia last year. As of April this year, I am now back at home, in my bedroom, with absolutely no idea of when this is going to change. I did have a plan which changed and now I’m living here with no end date, which is scary. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely appreciative because I can save a lot more whilst living here but I do miss having a complete space of my own and a sense of independence. Katie lives at home for a matter of months but in this time she accumulates so much experience which gives her a kick start to getting back up on that career ladder.
The Love Aspect
Would it be a Sophie Kinsella novel without a little bit of the L word? In comes Alex who is a big kid at heart, who tests out toys for adults as his full time job. He’s also the boss, as in Katie’s boss. Cue lots of awkward faces and embarrassing moments as well as huge flair ups in character. She forgets about him, or tries to, for the next phase of her life: the life of a Somerset girl in plaid and jeans, mucking out stables and maintaining a high functioning start up business. Then, he comes back and then he leaves again. That is just the way of the world of men and romance and love – always keeping the main gal guessing, until it’s a happily ever after.
We live in a world where money is the ruler of life. It controls the majority of what we do, where we live, where we travel to, how we look, perhaps even how we act. The entire time Katie talks to us – because it is as if she’s chatting to us over a few two-for-one cocktails – there is an undertone of money issues throughout. In fact, she comes out and says shit, I can’t afford x, y and z. There is plenty of humour as she gets mistaken for a homeless person and somebody hands her a £50 note as she tries to escape from an expensive on-trend café in Portobello Markets. Stretching money is part of the single London life. I know all about that and I had a student loan as well as a wage to help; being a graduate in a part time job or two is definitely a little bit worse as overdrafts are now charging and “adult life” just happens all of a sudden.
This is the topic of plenty of posts in the blogosphere. The distinction between reality and what we put on our Instagram feeds can be more than a little blurred. In fact, it can be scrubbed out and retouched and not even a part of our day or week because we like to be inspirational and make others a teensy weensy bit jealous with our holiday snaps. It can also become something to hide behind a little, like our own life isn’t that exciting so we make it look more appealing to others and perhaps even start to believe it ourselves.
There are so many other fab things in this book including the character Demeter. She is just fab with a capital F, if not slightly deranged and portrayed as the Devil in disguise for the first two thirds of the book. I love how in tune this book is for twenty-somethings and having little life set backs for a while before everything jumps back into motion and zooms forward without a backward glance. It’ll be staying on my shelf for some time, especially for these little ruts I may or may not find myself in.
Which book reflects your life and the financial and social issues surrounding it?
Love, Faye xo