By: Sophie Kinsella
It’s been over two years since Effie’s beloved parents got divorced, destroying the image of the happy, loving childhood she thought she had. Since then, she’s become estranged from her father and embarked on a feud with his hot (and much younger) girlfriend, Krista. And now, more earth-shattering news: Greenoaks, the rambling Victorian country house Effie called home her whole life, has been sold.
When Krista decides to throw a grand “house cooling” party, Effie is originally left off the guest list–and then receives a last-minute “anti-invitation” (maybe it’s because she called Krista a gold-digger, but Krista totally deserved it, and it was mostly a joke anyway). Effie declines, but then remembers a beloved childhood treasure is still hidden in the house. Her only chance to retrieve it is to break into Greenoaks while everyone is busy celebrating. As Effie sneaks around the house, hiding under tables and peeping through trapdoors, she realizes the secrets Greenoaks holds aren’t just in the dusty passageways and hidden attics she grew up exploring. Watching how her sister, brother, and dad behave when they think no one is looking, Effie overhears conversations, makes discoveries, and begins to see her family in a new light. Then she runs into Joe–the love of her life, who long ago broke her heart, and who’s still as handsome and funny as ever–and even more truths emerge.
Note – Thanks to Random House Publishing and NetGalley for this eARC in return for an honest review.
I have always liked Sophie Kinsella. I was a huge fan of the Shopaholic series. I found it sweet, endearing and witty. So, I had high hopes for this book.
Honestly, I can always tell I struggled with a book when I go to write the review and find that not much of the book stuck with me.
First, it took me a while to get into this book. Once there, however, it was cute. Nothing super special and nothing quite as charming as The Shopaholic series. Effie is a cute albeit underwhelming main character way too focused on her Dad and step-mom’s divorce. She seems to have tunnel vision where this situation is concerned when she could devote some of her attention to her own life.
Her sister, Bean, is charming and almost annoyingly optimistic. Her brother, Gus, seems to have his head in the clouds, oblivious to what is going on with his family. The stepmom, Mimi, is a bit of a mystery later on in the book, not acting at all like she’s just been through a divorce. And her dad is ridiculously obsessed with his new, bouncy girlfriend, he doesn’t see his family falling apart. The idea of him allowing Krista to rule over his family, regardless of her intentions, was frustrating in the extreme. I wanted to snap her spandex as much as I wanted to slap Effie’s dad. Him sitting silent while several guests bashed his youngest child was infuriating.
The main theme of this book is family dynamics, or family dysfunction. There’s a lot these characters say to each other that isn’t heard and a lot unspoken that speaks volumes. I thought the premise of Effie running around and hiding in her former house was only going to be part of the story. I didn’t realize it would be the whole story so some disappointment there.
There was a nice chemistry between Effie and Joe and some memorable moments, like when Bean finally loses it, smashing plates and all, towards the climax of the book. But that’s probably the very best moment in the book.
Overall, I found this a little silly. A grown woman creeping around at a party her family is attending so she can find a childhood toy felt a little immature for a writer who’s produced some real gems. Not upset I read it but this is a one and done for me.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐