Sophie Kinsella, author of chick-lit hits like the Shopaholic series, Remember Me and Twenties Girl, produces another charming novel with The Undomestic Goddess. Rife with humiliating moments, The Undomestic Goddess is good for a few, even several laughs.
Samantha Sweeting is a brilliant lawyer but somehow gets roped into working as a housekeeper in the suburbs of London. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have any domestic skills. She is incapable of doing laundry, fixing a meal, even vacuuming. With the help of new friends and a new love interest, Samantha begins to learn a little about housekeeping – and a lot about herself.
Plot Overview: Humor, Fulfillment and Vindication
Samantha is a high-flying lawyer at Carter Spink, one of London’s most prestigious firms. When she is on the verge of being named partner, she makes a critical mistake, costing one of the firm’s clients 50 million pounds. Shocked by her simple mistake and her certain termination, Samantha flees the office. She dazedly makes her way to the London countryside, where she is mistaken by a generous, if clueless couple as being a housekeeper. Uncertain what to do, Samantha plays along – until she realizes she’s actually been hired.
Hiding in the countryside, Samantha undergoes her own transformation. As she struggles to learn how to cook and clean, she gradually sheds the stress and unhappiness of her former career. In a happy turn of fate, she also meets Nathanial, the estate’s hunky gardener. Her feelings for Nathaniel grow – at least until she discovers his hatred of lawyers. The question is, can Nathaniel overcome his prejudice towards lawyers? And, if Nathaniel can get over his lawyer hang-ups, can Samantha summon her courage and face her former employers when she discovers she’s been wrongly terminated?
Criticisms and Compliments
By itself, The Undomestic Goddess is a sweet, humorous read. Kinsella easily blends humiliation with vindication, and like most of her protagonists, Samantha Sweeting is a little kooky. Compared to Kinsella’s other novels, however, The Undomestic Goddess falls a little short. It is funny, but it doesn’t reach the comic heights of cringe-worthy novels Twenties Girl or Can You Keep A Secret?.
In The Undomestic Goddess, Kinsella pairs Samantha’s lack of housekeeping abilities with her mother’s feminist ideals. This juxtaposition of opposing ideals doesn’t make for the funniest material, though Kinsella certainly tries. The strength of this novel actually lies in Nathaniel, its well-developed love interest. While potential boyfriends tend to appear superficial in Kinsella’s novels, Nathaniel, vulnerable yet strong, is a solid match for Samantha.
Despite its weaknesses, The Undomestic Goddess is still delightful. Fans of Kinsella will be pleased by the novel, which has a fantastic ending, and women trying to juggle between careers and housework can easily relate to Samantha. Overall, The Undomestic Goddess is cute and light, perfect for vacation reading.
- Kinsella, Sophie. The Undomestic Goddess. Dell, 2007, ISBN 9780440242383