It’s not often that I read two similar books in the same week. Recently, I read The Love Detective, by Alexandra Potter and Wedding Night, by Sophie Kinsella. Both authors are British, and write almost exclusively in the ‘chick lit’ category.
A side note: I absolutely hate that classification of novels. Chick lit implies that only women will read it or enjoy it, or even that only the girliest of girls will like it. I read almost everything, from science fiction to romance to the classics. Among those novels, are many books by both these authors. These novels I’ve listed are both their most recent releases.
Wedding Night (WN) is about two sisters, Fliss and Lottie. Lottie flees a botched proposal, thinking she never really knew her boyfriend. She goes straight into the arms of a former lover and they rush into a whirlwind marriage and honeymoon in Greece. Fliss is still recovering from a terrible divorce and dealing with all the custody and property battles that come with that. She’s terribly protective of her younger sister and takes it upon herself to save Lottie from what Fliss views as the biggest mistake of her life.
In The Love Detective (TLD), Ruby, a writer with writer’s block, flies to India to meet up with her wilder, younger sister, Amy, who has been traveling the world. There, she has a wonderful time, relaxing, enjoying the food, the beach and the environment. Then Amy announces that she’s eloping with Shine, the yoga guru from the resort. Ruby, who had been on her way out of India, turns right around and tries to save her sister from what she thinks is the biggest mistake of her life.
I told you they were similar! You’d almost think these two authors conspired to write similar books at a similar time but I doubt that’s the case. I’d been anticipating both these books and was so excited to pick them up at the nearby Chapters a couple weeks ago. I tore through TLD in two days, I think, in between work and sleep. :) Then I started on WN, and read it in a few more days. Both books featured loving but flaky or serious sisters. They featured adventures in exotic lands and hints of romance on all sides. That is where the similarity ends.
WN started out with a funny idea and what is probably a common thought for a lot of people. What if you hooked up with that long lost love again? Would you still have that same hot chemistry as you did in your younger days? Unfortunately, this story seemed to stall at the quickie wedding. From then on, Fliss’ attempts to keep her sister from consummating the marriage weren’t funny. They were cringe-worthy and, as someone who has spent hours laughing over Kinsella’s other novels, I had a hard time even finishing this novel. I kept reading hoping that the awkwardness and unfunny moments would come to some sort of conclusion.
The characters started out with a lot of potential. Both sisters are strong career women, dealing with all the quirks life has thrown at them.Lottie deals with life’s curve balls by making what Fliss calls her ‘unfortunate choices.’ I think Fliss needed to acknowledge her own unfortunate choices. Instead, she thinks she’s in the right every time she messes with her sister on her honeymoon. Along the way, she meets an acerbic, mysterious sort of man who may or may not be her romantic interest but either way, I found I didn’t really care. I grew tired of the antics of both sisters, serious and slightly hypocritical Fliss, and flighty and foolish Lottie. In the end, the novel wrapped up to a satisfying ending, somewhat redeeming each character. Overall though, it wasn’t my favorite of Sophie Kinsella’s novels.
TLD, on the other hand, was sweet, laugh-out-loud funny, with no awkward moments to make me cringe. Ruby was an endearing, fun character from the beginning and maybe the fact that she was a writer struggling to write that made me feel I could relate to her more. Her journey started as a normal premise. Getting away from it all to an exotic place with a beloved sister.
She started to let go and relax but how much of India did she experience in the resort in Goa? Not much, as she realizes when Amy confesses to her elopement. Ruby starts off across the country, alone, not knowing the language, very few of the customs and dangers, and somehow figures things out along the way. It doesn’t hurt that she meets Jack, a know-it-all American who keeps his reasons for traveling through India to himself.
Ruby loses her passport, suitcase and all her money and Jack becomes her knight in shining armor, after a hilarious, embarrassing rant about all the things wrong in Ruby’s life. His interest in her starts as pity, I imagine, but grows into something more. Along the way, Ruby gets closer to ‘rescuing’ her sister and ends up learning more about herself. She truly starts to experience the Indian culture and cuisine and surprises even herself with her capacity to adapt.
By the time I got to the end, I hadn’t realized how caught up I’d been in the story. Potter’s stories always feature a hint of magic, a feeling of something wondrous sweeping the characters along without seeming too unreal. Overall, this was a great, fun read with lovable characters and a romantic setting that makes me want to rescue a sister from herself. If I had one. ;)
Like I said at the start, it’s not often that I read two such similar stories at the same time. I didn’t set out to, it just turned out that the two books I was anticipating happened to be these two. I thought it was a good opportunity to write a new review, something I haven’t done in a while, since the end of my on-line book club.
While disappointed in Kinsella’s novel, I won’t stop reading her books. I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time, including the Shopaholic novels. However, the one that I always return to, is called Can You Keep A Secret? Also, one of her more recent ones, I’ve Got Your Number was witty, clever and filled with a lot of laugh-out-loud moments.
Alexandra Potter isn’t as well known here as Kinsella, and her books are harder to find but I’ve enjoyed every single one of hers that I’ve read. They’re all stand-alone novels with a hint of romance and fantasy in each one. It would be hard to pick a favorite, and I fell in love with TLD immediately after reading it. However, I’d also recommend Be Careful What You Wish For and Who’s That Girl?
I hope whatever you’re reading today or this week is enjoyable. I’ve been reading more lately, perhaps procrastinating on working on my own novels. :)
Until next time, take care and happy reading.