twentiesgirlThe Roaring Life

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Lara Lington is less concerned with the burial of her 105 year old Great Aunt Sadie than her relationship woes and failing business. Lara is already in trouble with her concerned parents, her breakup behavior including constant texting and stalking leading to even more trouble from her commitment phobic former lover. Meanwhile, after quitting her job to follow her best friend’s dream of co-establishing a headhunting firm, Lara is trying to recover from the damage when her friend runs off to become a beach bunny. Amid all the turmoil, the funeral does offer one possibility. Her uncle Bill is famous for his “two coins” speech, his claiming of building the multi-million dollar Lington coffee empire from only two coins being his claim to fame and Lara’s possible job salvation.

When the ghost of Great Aunt Sadie, full of vim and requiring her necklace makes an appearance at the funeral, Lara is the only one who can see and respond to her. The situation devolves as Sadie demands attention, and Lara makes claims that her aunt was murdered to stop the funeral until she can locate the unrelenting ghost’s prized dragonfly necklace.

The resulting journey is one of Kinsella’s most comic and most endearing as it examines friendships, old age, family, the truth of longing, and the difference between generations. Sadie is an energetic ghost with an amazing will and a fondness for feathers, dancing, 20s fashion, and Barneymugging.  Sadie wants to live it up in the last moments of her death and from guilt and frustration, Lara plays along. Sadie most importantly wants one last date and one last dance with a man, leaving Lara to play the role of modern day flapper in the business world, all the while trying to manage her boy troubles and waning business deals. Meanwhile, the police continue an erroneous murder investigation that increases in bizarreness as Lara invents more off-the-cuff details to buy her ghostly friend more time.

As the foibles continue, Lara involves Sadie in her life as well, using her to spy on her ex-boyfriend, leading the two to bond over past loves and slowly reveal their hearts as Twenties Girl explores the meaning of family, un-relinquished love, and the young spirit still alive in the very old. The story leads into many laugh-out-loud moments as the modern world clashes with Sadie’s forced 1920s styling and outlook.

Along with all the slapstick, absurdist humor that compliments a Kinsella book, the novel draws us into the characters. We care deeply for Lara and the story concerning her ex-boyfriend and her job are just as involving as the exciting supernatural aspect of Sadie’s flapper life. Sadie herself is a character who, while seemingly oblivious to the way things work now and while parading as a girl who just wants to have fun, also reveals a human, vulnerable spot that makes us care for her and her relationship with Lara.

Meanwhile, a bit of mystery gets thrown in as Lara follows the missing necklace right up to the revelation of several family secrets that change everything. This keeps the novel dynamic both with the human element, the hilarity, and the sense of mystery.

I found myself moved quite close to tears in the end as I had to let go of Sadie and Lara, the sense of a great journey and close personal time spent with two endearing people coming to an
end. As with all Kinsella books, and finishing Twenties Girl means that I have officially read them all now, I had a heartwarming feeling and also a sense of loss, letting go of characters and a story that I had been so immersed in.

I picked up the audiobook rendition of this tale, read by Rosalyn Landor. Landor did an exquisite job creating distinct voices for each character and imbuing appropriate emotions into the situations. Listening to this novel was an added bonus and certainly something I recommend for Kinsella lovers and all interested readers.

Highly recommended. So far, this is one of my favorites in Kinsella’s repertoire of novels.

–          Frances Carden

Frances Carden
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