Sunday, 4 August 2013

Read in 2013 - 27: A Desirable Residence

It has been more than a year since my last Kinsella (you can read the review here), and I don't think I have missed out on anything there. It was Mary, my mother-in-law, who gave me "A Desirable Residence" by Sophie Kinsella. She had prepared a small pile of books for me to take home when I went visiting her during my Yorkshire holiday. Speaking of which - I have added something to my previous post, "My Yorkshire Holiday: Bits and Bobs". Of course I am interested in your comments to my addendum, so it would be very kind of you to click on "Older Post" at the bottom of this page and have a look. Thank you!

Back to topic: "A Desirable Residence" was entertaining enough, but not grippingly so, and there were no laughing-out-loud moments in it for me. I found it hard to tell which of the characters was intended to be the central one; maybe the author did it on purpose not to focus on a central figure.

There are Liz and her husband Jonathan, along with teenage daughter Alice, who - rather head-over-heels, it seems, and not very well tought through - buy a run-down tutorial college they intend to turn into an efficient business. They get money from the bank for the purchase of the college under the condition that they sell their old house. Simple? Not. The old house, in the hands of an estate agency, does not sell, and the tutorial college does not take off as well as expected. In the meantime, the family of three have to live in the less-than-glamorous rooms above the college.

For Liz and Jonathan, the threatening of their financial mis-management leading into total ruin puts a strain on their marriage, while 14-year-old Alice mainly suffers from the indignity of having to live above her parents' work place and not at the old house anymore, which she loved.

The estate agent suggests they rent the old place out while they are waiting to sell it, and since it seems to be the only feasible solution, Liz and Jonathan agree. The agent soon finds them a couple of tenants: Ginny and Piers, both young and dashing, with Piers almost a celebrity through his former role in a TV soap, and Ginny working with estate agencies to help promote the properties they manage.

Alice gets to know them and ends up spending a lot of time back at "her" old house, becoming more and more distant from her parents. Liz - who really is quite a daft character I have not much sympathy for - embarks on an affair with Marcus, the estate agent. We get to know a lot about Marcus' family, too; I guess his son Daniel (who is put under enormous pressure by his mother to be an over-achiever at school and win a much-coveted scholarship) is the character I cared most about in the story, closely followed by Jonathan, Liz' husband, who really works hard to make the college and his marriage a success against all odds.

The story seems to be mostly about Liz and Alice, but Marcus, Ginny and Pierce get almost as much attention from the author, so it was more a case of "group cast" than of focal point. The real focal point was the house, I guess, and even that is left rather two-dimensional and not described in much detail.

It was light entertainment for the evenings when I came home from work with my head full, but nothing I'd strongly recommend or spend money on, I'm afraid. Or maybe I just wasn't in the right mood.


  1. Sometimes light entertainment is just what a person needs after a hard day of work!

    Thank you for stopping by . . . sorry to hear you don't care for seafood, it's my favorite!!!

    Have a lovely week!

    1. Indeed, sometimes light reading is all I want for the evening :-)

      You too have a lovely week, Mary!

  2. I much prefer when Madeleine Wickham writes as 'Sophie Kinsella' and not the other way around, I find the former's books rather dull in comparison. I recently read Sophie Kinsella's 'Wedding Night' which was a very amusing 'light' read. :)

    1. Funny, isn't it, how one person can write in such different ways. From all the comments I have read so far (also on Amazon), I wonder whether there is anybody who prefers the Madeleine Wickham books to the Sophie Kinsella ones.

  3. Not what I’d normally read, but a hot summer evening might just do for it.

    I read the addendum: I think that little homily (for such it is) was to make children ‘good’. Victorian children and ‘good' are probably a different thing from modern children and ‘good’.

    1. Yes, Friko, in those days, children were supposed to be seen but not heard, weren't they. And especially in rich families, they were left with their nannies and hardly ever saw their parents.