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The Undomestic Goddess

Review

The Undomestic Goddess

Whether your dust bunnies have become full-fledged rabbits and you consider speed-dialing Dominos a viable form of "cooking" or you frequently wield a feather duster while waiting for your homemade dough to rise, you're sure to derive vicarious pleasure from reading Sophie Kinsella's latest, THE UNDOMESTIC GODDESS. Kinsella, bestselling author of the popular Shopaholic series as well as the novel CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?, crafts her new tale about one very domestically challenged young woman using the same winning ingredients that made her previous books so successful: a loveable heroine with slightly skewed priorities, a hilarious series of misadventures, and a gratifying personal transformation.

This time, the author turns her wicked sense of humor on a very different type of character from her infamous fictional heroine, endearing shopaholic Becky Bloomwood, for whom shopping always came first and career a distant second. Nothing could be further from the reality of Samantha Sweeting, a stressed-out, high-powered attorney who definitely doesn't have time to shop, let alone cook, clean, have any form of social life or even celebrate her own birthday. She's too busy racking up billable hours while trying to make partner at her high-flying London law firm. And at the young age of 29, it appears she just may have succeeded.

But on the same day she learns of her impending partnership, she also discovers an important legal document that she forgot to register buried on her desk. Her initial dismay turns to horror as it becomes apparent that this mistake is going to cost the firm's client a hundred million dollars. Stunned by the news and visualizing everything she's worked for crashing down around her, she does the only sensible thing she can think of --- runs away. In a shell-shocked daze, she ends up on a train to the remote British countryside where an amusing chain of events leads to her being mistaken for an interviewee for a housekeeping position.

Exhausted and still reeling from shame, she initially plays along with the case of mistaken identity, just until she can clear her head and get a good night's rest. But by the next day, more horror sets in as she recalls the "slight" exaggerations she told her new "employers," such as her extensive cleaning experience and degree in Cordon Bleu cooking (despite the fact that she can't boil water and has never operated a vacuum!).

With every intention of coming clean, her resolve weakens after hearing confirmation of her firing, seeing her name splashed across Internet chat rooms, and finding herself abandoned by former colleagues as well as chastised by her mother, who's also a high-powered attorney. Defiantly, Samantha decides to stay on where she's at least wanted, even if it is under false pretenses and in a job she's not qualified to do. In her competitive mindset, it's a new challenge that she'll simply rise to meet. Needless to say, this proves easier said than done, and mayhem soon unfolds as she is forced to follow through on promises of elegant six-course dinners and stacks of neatly pressed laundry.

With the aid of some newfound allies, Samantha is able to salvage her charade by actually mastering the domestic arts, in the process finding unexpected romance and learning how to take pleasure in life for the first time ever, and not in six-minute, billable intervals. When a surprising turn of events unfolds, her bucolic way of life is shattered and she is forced to decide which version of reality she wants to claim as her own.

Both the domestically challenged and doyennes of domesticity alike will find resonance in the book's message about taking pleasure in the little things in life during today's hectic times. Delivered with the author's inimitable sense of humor and knack for capturing the comic in everyday situations, THE UNDOMESTIC GODDESS is reason enough to put down your feather duster or turn off your computer and lose yourself in the pages of some escapist summer reading.

Reviewed by Joni Rendon on July 19, 2005

The Undomestic Goddess
by Sophie Kinsella

  • Publication Date: July 19, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: The Dial Press
  • ISBN-10: 0385338686
  • ISBN-13: 9780385338684