Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Read in 2014 - 26: Sleeping Arrangements

Another "Sophie Kinsella writing as Madeleine Wickham" (her real name), the plot of this book is quickly told:

Two very different families - one rich, one a lot less so - are involuntarily thrown together for a week's holiday at a luxurious villa in Spain because the villa's owner has double-booked the place.

Of course, it always makes for interesting scenes and conversations when people who otherwise would never mix are all of a sudden forced to spend time with each other.

Chloe and Philipp both need this holiday to get away from stressful situations at work, which have been affecting their relationship. Hugh and Amanda have no such worries; for Amanda, the biggest problem is to ensure her interior architect uses exactly the right shade of aquamarine for the walls while she is away and cannot supervise in person the redecorating of their home. Hugh tries to get to know his family better - he spends so much time at the office that he hardly sees his two little daughters.
The "poor" couple come with two sons, the rich family have hired a nanny (who will play her own part in making this an unforgettable holiday).

After they all more or less grudgingly accept that they're stuck at the villa for the week, everyone tries to make the best of it. This "best" of course involves a lot of drinking, as always seems to be the case in Sophie Kinsella's books for most of her characters. There are lonely walks to the next village, ending less lonesome than expected; overheard telephone calls in the villa's study and faxes seen by others than the intended recipient; shared meals never eaten; topless sunbathing and the first sexual experience for a teenager.

Two of the four adults have known each other 15 years ago, something neither of their partners know about. How will this secret from the past affect their time at the villa? Are the couples going to stay together, or will things be so upset by the events of the week that nothing will remain as it was before?

After the first few chapters, it is pretty obvious where the story is heading; no huge surprises, not much guessing necessary, which makes for an easy, relaxing read on a summer holiday (in my case, for the hours after work and before lights out).

This was the 5th book by Sophie Kinsella I have read (and reviewed on here). None of it would have meant a big loss if I had not read it; all of them came from my mother-in-law and would not have been my personal choice from a bookshop or library shelf, but all five made for light entertainment, and "The Undomestic Goddess" was even good for a few laughs.


  1. I've never read one of her books (and probably never will) although sometimes I think that some pure light escapism would be a Very Good Thing.

    1. You're definitely not missing out on anything by not reading Kinsella, Graham.
      As for the escapism - I'm afraid her stories and characters don't get enough grip on me to call it that. They remain at the surface.

  2. I think I have read one of her books, a long time ago, but never sought out another one! When I want escapism I usually go for a not too violent mystery.

    1. I could really just copy & paste here what I replied to Graham's comment above, Kristi!
      If it weren't for my mother-in-law giving/sending me these books, I doubt I'd ever read them myself. They are entertaining, but I don't get really involved with any of the characters; not the way I do with some of my favourite series, such as the Agatha Raisin ones, or Jack Sheffield's "Teacher" books.