February 12, 2009

Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

While I feel like I read a fairly wide selection of books, one genre with which I'm fairly unfamiliar is chick-lit. So I was excited when my book group selected Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella for our selection this month. Part of what I love about a book group is reading outside my comfort zone!

The premise of this book is that Emma, a Bridget Jones-esque character, spills her secrets to a stranger sitting next to her on a plane. Secrets like she lies about her weight and pours orange juice in an annoying co-worker's plant. Of course, it turns out this stranger isn't really a stranger: he's the owner of the huge international corporation where she is employed as a junior marketing assistant.

Ultimately, I'm a bit conflicted about this book. I was partially pleasantly surprised, and partially terribly disappointed.

I'll begin with the positives:
  • This book was surprisingly readable. It was hard to put down, and certainly pulled me along through the story.
  • Okay, that's really the only positive I can think of, but it's a pretty big positive. If you're looking for light, silly, quick-read entertainment, this fits the bill.
Now on to the negatives:
  • The entire story line is about the main character, Emma, developing a new relationship. I'm used to romance being a sub-plot in many novels. Of course that's a story line in many books regardless of genre, where the main character surprisingly finds true love while doing X. In this book, there's no "X". It's really just about Emma getting a guy. There's a slight story line about her efforts to advance in her job, and an even more poorly developed and easily resolved story line about her relationship with her family, but they are such minor points in the novel I'd be hard pressed to even call them plot points.
  • Characters are sadly two-dimensional, lacking true development. It was especially true for Jemima, the clothes-horse, man-chasing roommate, who pretty much drove me insane every time she was mentioned. Even Emma, the main character, has little growth through the novel. The book starts out with a list of her "secrets", and ends with a list of her "secrets". I don't feel like there were any significant changes or learning experiences for her character.
  • The story line is a predicable Cinderella story: "normal" gal grabs the attention of Prince Charming. There was nothing new or inventive about the story line. Don't read this expecting amazing plot twists!
It sounds like I'm really slamming this book, and honestly, I don't mean to sound quite so negative. As I started out by saying, the book really was readable. If you're looking for a quick beach read, or something light to read between meatier books, this is a fine choice. Just don't spend a lot of time thinking about it, or cataloging its weaknesses, as that will really limit your enjoyment!


  1. While I enjoy the Shopaholic books for entertainment purposes, I did not really like this book. I agree with all of your negatives.

  2. Interesting concept, but sounds like she could have done so much more with it!

  3. I'm with you on this one. It was a good chick-lit quick read but not my favorite.

  4. My thoughts EXACTLY.
    I found these kinds of books perfect to read on the train when I commuted into the city and had no kids and unlimited time on my hands :)


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