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Two Fun Reads for the Holiday Season: The Book Club Series #3

Posted by Didi Gorman on

By Didi Gorman

Didi Gorman, Wise Choice Market's blog writer

Fellow book geeks, are you thinking what I’m thinking? That with yet another COVID lockdown and dreary weather looming over us this holiday season, what we need right now are a few light, cute, entertaining reads to counter all this gloom?

I have two such feel-good novels to recommend today: Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan (2017) and I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella (2019). Both did a good job in putting a smile on my face.

I’d like to start my review with the many similarities between the two.

First off, both novels are high pacing contemporary comedies, written in the first person and narrated by a young-ish, mildly-obsessive woman who, through a series of shenanigans and wacky adventures, eventually comes into her own.

The humor in both books is witty and delightful and is based on the principles of parody (exaggerating things until they become absurd). As such, the reader shouldn’t read these novels as accurate representations of reality, but rather as sitcoms. (In other words, allow a large dose of suspended disbelief and don’t take these stories too seriously.) Similarly, don’t think of the characters as real people. They’re not. They are parodies. Enjoy the author’s clever and amusing writing for what it is – clever and amusing, and let go of the need for one hundred percent realism.

I’m giving you these heads ups so that you can really enjoy the reading. I saw quite a few book reviews criticizing these novels for using many stereotypes and predictable formulas. True, these are definitely present, but if you go into the reading expecting parody rather than a documentary, you’ll not only maximize the fun but also understand that the role of those one-dimensional characters is mostly to sharply contrast with the narrator, thus raising the stakes and driving the plot forward.

There. I’m done my little speech. Now let’s start.

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan
This novel is written like a blog.

Synopsis: Ashley Keller is a hot mess of a new mother. Formerly a career girl and now a stay-at-home mom, she is overwhelmed by the unending demands of domestic life and full-time motherhood, and by her sense of inadequacy in it all. She’s desperate to become a capable mom, but her sense of failure is only exacerbated by the constant stream of perfect motherhood images she sees on social media and to which she inevitably compares herself. Exhausted and struggling, she signs up for a Motherhood boot camp led by a celebrity motherhood guru, hoping to become a better mother. In the process, she learns a few lessons about appearances versus reality and about what good motherhood really means.

Reading this book definitely took me back to when I was a first-time mom. I recognized those piles of laundry, the sleep deprivation, the mess around the house, the comparison to other moms whom I perceived – wrongly – as more capable than me. I’ve been through it all and the novel did a good job presenting these themes in a relatable and humorous way. As a humor writer myself, I love it when the author – through the narrator – winks at the reader.

I did find the lead-up to the ending a bit too long. The points the novel was trying to make (the tensions in married life following the advent of a new baby, the exhaustion, the lack of routine, the sense of not being understood, the keeping up of appearances, the decline in social life), had already been explored in different permutations throughout the story, there was no need to repeat them.

All in all, I had a good time reading Confessions of a Domestic Failure.

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella
I’m about one third into the book and, so far, it’s a classic Sophie Kinsella treat. The narrator, called Fixie (because she’s obsessed with fixing things), tries to get back with her ex-boyfriend who is broke and desperately looking for a new job. As luck would have it, and through a typical Sophie Kinsella sequence of whimsical circumstances, she manages to secure him a job interview in an investment firm.

This is where I got so far in my reading and I’m curious as to which quirky events lie ahead. If I get it correctly, things are about to change drastically. I mean, there are still some 300 pages to go, so something is about to go wrong or take an unexpected turn.

Similarly to Confessions of a Domestic Failure, this novel (written in the form of a rom-com) requires a larger dose of suspended disbelief on the part of the reader. Characters are fairly clichéd (the impossibly beautiful and empty-headed sister, the conniving brother, the patronizing uncle, the phony ex-boyfriend), including the likeable, if quite gullible, narrator.

This is the place to emphasize my earlier point: I didn’t approach the characters as real people, but rather as fictional caricatures. It’s in this fashion that I managed not to find them all that irritating.

So there, my fellow bookish friends, my two novels and my reading insights.

I’m planning on popping to the local library today to stash a few more books and I will post about them soon.

I will take this opportunity to wish you a happy holiday season and keep reading!

Didi, Wise Choice Market, December 2020