28/08/2010

Remember Me (by Sophie Kinsella)

For some years I rather turned my nose up at the idea of reading books by Sophie Kinsella. Yes, I was snobby about so-called 'chick-lit'. Ridiculous, really, given my rather eclectic but generally non-literary tastes in fiction. The problem, I think, is that I was put off the genre by one novel I read, years ago, which was trite, and had a disappointing story-line and ending.

But at last I did start reading Sophie Kinsella's work, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed her books. I picked up 'Remember Me' in a charity shop in April, and read it yesterday...

The story is told in the present tense, which is perfect for the way the plot works. It opens with a prologue, something that can be quite annoying, but in this case is essential to the rest of the book. 25-year-old Lexi has been out for an evening with her mates, in 2004. She's not happy. She's cold, and wet; her boyfriend stood her up, and she has to be up early the following day for her father's funeral. Running for a taxi, she slips and falls...

At the start of chapter one, Lexi wakes up in hospital, in 2007. But she's convinced that it was only the previous night that she was so miserable. It turns out that she is suffering partial amnesia which means that the events of the previous three years have totally gone from her mind.

To her amazement, Lexi discovers that she's married to a rather gorgeous millionaire, and is now a director in the company she was working for in 2004. She even has a slimmer, bronzed body, perfect teeth and a manicure. She has no idea how this can have happened, but clearly it's not a dream, nor an elaborate hoax. Physically, she recovers quickly and then returns to her home - a penthouse flat with every modern convenience and comfort, and an entire room full of designer clothes. She can't imagine how she reached this stage in life - she rather misses her jeans and flat shoes - but it appears that she has fallen on her feet.

Sadly, all is not as wonderful as it seems. Lexi's friends no longer want to know her. Her little sister has turned into a teenage trouble-maker. And Lexi herself has apparently become a strict, controlling unpopular boss. She finds herself entirely bewildered by office politics and business deals which she's supposed to be organising. She's forgotten how to drive. Her Eric husband is very picky about their fabulous home, and - frankly - rather dull. And then there's Jon, whom she finds rather disturbing...

I found this book totally un-put-down-able, and read it in one long evening. It's slightly more serious than others by Sophie Kinsella, with rather less humour; but no less enjoyable. I was intrigued to know how the author could possibly get Lexi from her casual 25-year-old self into the transformed 28-year-old who is both loved and hated, and whom she simply can't recognise as herself.

It's very cleverly done, gradually unfolding more of the past from different perspectives, building up a surprisingly believable picture, and then showing the catalyst for her change towards the end.

Slightly more swear words than I'm comfortable with, but very well written. Recommended to anyone who likes light women's fiction.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 28th August 2010

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