Sophie Kinsella’s 2003 ‘stand-alone’ novel ‘Can You Keep a Secret?‘ recently caught my eye. Between the hectic storm of day to day life, in the moments where I can put my feet up, I have been absorbed in Emma’s relatable life of humorous disaster.
Emma, the protagonist, is character you can sympathise with. Even 16 years later. Between her whirlwind life of awkward moments, difficult career path and her heart-wrenchingly dysfunctional family life, Emma is a timeless character the modern young woman will recognise. She is full of good intentions that circumstance always seems to twist and turn into little white lies. So when Emma unintentionally spills out all her secrets to her top boss, her world is thrown upside down.
Jack, the romantic masculine character with a vast fortunate, perhaps too soon seems to be the answer to all of Emma’s problems. Inevitably, today’s feminist critique of literature would be very sceptical of this. However a large part of Emma is a strong and confident woman. She feels confident enough to speak up for the inequalities between them, and even her two other flatmates encourage her to recognise her rights. Instead, Jack has walked out of a Jane Austen novel and chosen to pop into 2003. He is thoughtful, well-intentioned and meaningful; His millions are almost invisible.
Whilst somewhat predictable, with points where I screamed for Emma to speak up for herself, Kinsella’s book was funny, satisfying and a downright pleasure to read. Even though the book has aged well, imagining 2003 flip phones, crazy hair dos and 00’s clothes (pink crochet!?) was a comforting blast from the past (particularly as we approach 2020!).
Verdict? A definite recommendation for my friends. Kinsella certainly came through on the humour/’chick-flit’/contemporary romance front. Crucially, she has created something both timeless and nostalgic, before the age of Tinder and a Google search engine to pour your woes into. It raises a moral questioning of why we lie; provoking the idea that we should be brave and transform our lives for the better, like Emma, and step forth into an honest world. A strong 7/10.