Can You Keep a Secret?, by Sophie Kinsella

>> Friday, March 04, 2005

I have my own copy of Can You Keep a Secret? (excerpt), by Sophie Kinsella on its way here, thanks to the wonderful Màili, but when a friend mentioned she had a copy, I was weak and borrowed it. You see, it was just before I voted at the All About Romance poll for best reads of 2004 and I'd read almost nothing in the Chick Lit / Women's Fiction category.

Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets:

Secrets from her mother:
- I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom with Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben-Hur.
- Sammy the goldfish in my parents’ kitchen is not the same goldfish that Mum gave me to look after when she and Dad were in Egypt.

Secrets from her boyfriend:
- I weigh one hundred and twenty-eight pounds. Not one eighteen, like Connor thinks.
- I’ve always thought Connor looks a bit like Ken. As in Barbie and Ken.

From her colleagues:
- When Artemis really annoys me, I feed her plant orange juice. (Which is pretty much every day.)
- It was me who jammed the copier that time. In fact, all the times.

Secrets she wouldn’t share with anyone in the world:
- My G-string is hurting me.
- I have no idea what NATO stands for. Or even what it is.

Until she spills them all to a handsome stranger on a plane. At least, she thought he was a stranger.

But come Monday morning, Emma’s office is abuzz about the arrival of Jack Harper, the company’s elusive CEO. Suddenly Emma is face-to-face with the stranger from the plane, a man who knows every single humiliating detail about her. Things couldn’t possibly get worse—Until they do.
I immensely enjoyed this one. My grade for it was a B+. Actually, I was a bit surprised, because I've heard a lot about the Shopaholic series, and that one sounds exactly like the type of chick-lit I don't like at all.

At first, I was ready to be irritated by Emma. The first couple of scenes seemed to show the type of humour I hate, the type which relies on the heroine behaving like a nitwit. Emma seemed to make no effort in her job and to be inept. But then she started to grow on me. She's just a normal young woman, one who loves her parents and yet is tremendously irritated by some of the things they do; one who has a job she isn't the best ever at and which doesn't particularly fulfill her, but hey! she knows there are worse jobs out there and hers isn't that bad! She gets along fine with some people and despises others, and isn't above being a little bitchy to them. And last, but not least, she has a strong honourable core and tries her best to be responsible, as evidenced by the fact that she's absolutely serious about paying her father back the money she owes him and actually cuts back on shopping for clothes and ends up buying stuff at charity shops.

The plot is a lot of fun. Kinsella took full advantage of all the possibilities afforded by having Jack knowing every single little secret of Emma's, and the result was hilarious, and sometimes even surprisingly poignant. A book as laugh-out-loud funny as this one risks lacking a bit of emotion (The Royal Treatment, anyone?), but Can You Keep a Secret? actually almost made me cry a few times. I simply loved, loved, loved the scene in which Jack stands up to her family for her, really sticking it to her annoying cousin! And the scene of Jack's betrayal.... wow! Powerful stuff!

If there's anything that kept this from being an A read it was the fact that I felt Jack was a little underwritten. I didn't know him as well as I wanted to, and this made the romance not as satisfying as it could have been.

Still, that's a small problem. On the whole, this was an amazing book!


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