Do you ever have an urge to go back to your bookshelf and relive a story in your collection? I do, all the time. And for some reason, a couple of weeks ago I was feeling pulled to Sophie Kinsella’s The Undomestic Goddess. If you have never heard of her, definitely check her work out. It is chick lit but so, so much more than that. I laugh out loud reading this book, which is awkward if you are anywhere but your own home.
The last time I read this novel was before I went to college, so make that sometime around 2010. Back then, I enjoyed it and fell in love with main character Samantha Sweeting. She is smart, funny, driven, clever, and unpredictable.
Eighteen-year-old me saw her as a strong role model. Twenty-three-year old me has been going through a lot of transitions lately, and maybe that is why I needed to take this book off the shelf. I wanted to feel something solidly confident in my gut again–what better way to do that than to talk to a best friend of old about it?
So I sat down with Sophie Kinsella and Samantha Sweeting to relive Samantha’s story and learn a little bit more about mine.
Samantha is a lawyer on the fast track to partner. Since childhood, she has been pushed and pressured into being the best that she can be. She doesn’t sleep, cook, or relax. She sold her soul to her career, but then she makes a mistake. A mistake that sets fire to her entire life.
I’m not a lawyer. I’m a writer, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t sold my soul to my career, either. I read so many sentences in the first few chapters of The Undomestic Goddess that could have been copied from my journals.
“I thrive under pressure.”
“I check my emails about once every…thirty seconds, maybe.”
“I’m not addicted to my watch. But obviously I rely on it.”
My life is in no way as stressful/high powered/intense as Samantha’s, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t live in a pressure cooker. I’m in my early twenties. Of course I focus too much on my job. I just got a degree, and I need to use it.
I’m a young professional. Of course I check my email every thirty seconds (or at least as soon as it dings).
I’m a busy woman. Of course I rely on schedules, time, and numerous Target watches.
At least, that’s how I thought until I really got into this book and realized that Samantha is figuring out the same things I am staring in the face. At one point for both of us, all of these workaholic qualities were admirable; they were the way to success. When I was eighteen I honestly believed I could have that kind of crazy work ethic and still have a life.
Lies. A work ethic like the one talked about in this book is an unnatural, unreasonable, and unhealthy one. Reasonable limits for yourself, time away from the computer, and hours spent outside doing productive activities (such as walking the dog) are just as important as the hours you log at the office. In fact, the more you take care of yourself, the better your career will be. A clear head makes for solid work.
I had already begun to realize this recently, through advice of friends, family, and simply on my own, but it was refreshing to pick an old story up and see it a new way. I relate to Samantha more now. She taught me different lessons a few year later because I have grown to be more like her. The good news is, she has a happy ending.
So, I guess the moral of this book review is not necessarily that this book is fabulous and you should totally give Sophie Kinsella a try. The moral of this book review is that rereading old books is not necessarily reading something old.