27/04/2015

I've got your Number (by Sophie Kinsella)

I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve read by Sophie Kinsella; I was a bit surprised how much I liked the first book of hers that I read, as I’m not a fan of ‘chick-lit’ or indeed of shopping. But she manages to create believably flawed and lovable characters, and writes extremely well.

A friend had read ‘I’ve got your number’ and liked it very much, so I put it on my wish-list a few months ago and was delighted to receive it for a recent birthday. I picked it up one morning to read - and then could barely put it down all day.

The story is about a young woman called Poppy who is engaged to a rather geeky guy called Magnus. She’s been given a family heirloom engagement ring… and it’s vanished. Then Poppy’s phone is snatched, and it seems that her life is coming to an end…. until, searching desperately through a rubbish bin in the hope of locating her ring, she comes across an abandoned phone. So she decides to borrow it for a while…

Soon Poppy finds herself forwarding texts and emails to a businessman called Sam; the phone belonged to one of his PAs who has quit her job. He wants it back, but Poppy has given the number to various people, including the establishment where she lost her ring, so she doesn’t want to return it. Not yet, anyway…

It’s a dramatic and stressful situation to find oneself in, but Poppy is a resourceful person, if rather lacking in self-esteem. She bandages her hand so that her future in-laws won’t notice the lack of ring, and pretends to be more academic than she is, in the hope that they won’t hate her. She gets caught up in more and more imaginary scenarios, fielding confusing messages to Sam on one hand (while perusing some of his private mail) and fending off possible queries about her lost ring on the other.

Sophie Kinsella is brilliant at this kind of convoluted plot, where a young - and naively likeable - woman does everything she can to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings, digging herself into deeper holes as she tries to cover over previous ‘white’ lies. It’s a little surreal, of course; I can’t imagine anyone staying sane amidst the stresses poor Poppy has to deal with in this light-hearted book, but I had no idea how it was going to be resolved, and, indeed, whether Poppy would go ahead and marry Magnus despite the disapproval of her in-laws.

There’s some humour - I found myself chuckling aloud a couple of times; Sophie Kinsella is one of the few authors who can make me do this - and some poignancy. There are unexpected developments too, although I should perhaps have been able to see them coming, and some high drama too. The whole is perfectly executed, culminating in an oddly satisfying ending; it stops a little more abruptly than I would have liked, and yet I’m not sure what else could be said.

There's more bad language than I’m comfortable with, although it’s mostly not inappropriate in context. And thankfully, typical for this author, there are no intrusive or detailed bedroom scenes.

Overall I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable book, if you don’t mind suspending reality for a while and aren’t frustrated by someone who’s decidedly naive and not averse to a bit of deceit. It’s not deep, it won’t keep you thinking or even remembering the story for weeks - but it’s ideal holiday reading and I would recommend it highly to anyone who likes this author or other light women’s fiction.

Available in Kindle form as well as paperback, but be warned that there are quite a few footnotes in this book - I liked them very much, but I gather that they're rather difficult to follow in the electronic form.

Review by copyright 2015 Sue's Book Reviews

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