Twenties Girl: A Novel

By Sophie Kinsella
Binding:Hardcover
Publisher:The Dial Press, (7/21/2009)
Language:English



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Lara Lington has always had an overactive imagination, but suddenly that imagination seems to be in overdrive. Normal professional twenty-something young women don’t get visited by ghosts. Or do they?

When the spirit of Lara’s great-aunt Sadie–a feisty, demanding girl with firm ideas about fashion, love, and the right way to dance–mysteriously appears, she has one last request: Lara must find a missing necklace that had been in Sadie’s possession for more than seventy-five years, and Sadie cannot rest without it. Lara, on the other hand, has a number of ongoing distractions. Her best friend and business partner has run off to Goa, her start-up company is floundering, and she’s just been dumped by the “perfect” man.

Sadie, however, could care less.

Lara and Sadie make a hilarious sparring duo, and at first it seems as though they have nothing in common. But as the mission to find Sadie’s necklace leads to intrigue and a new romance for Lara, these very different “twenties” girls learn some surprising truths from each other along the way. Written with all the irrepressible charm and humor that have made Sophie Kinsella’s books beloved by millions, Twenties Girl is also a deeply moving testament to the transcendent bonds of friendship and family.
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Claire's thoughts on "Twenties Girl: A Novel"
updated on:5/6/2010



DEFINITELY Unleash it


"Twenties Girl: A Novel"
By Sophie Kinsella

Average Rating:
DEFINITELY Unleash it
5.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)


The Gentleman
The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

 
 
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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Exclusive: Sophie Kinsella on Twenties Girl 

Sophie Kinsella is a former financial journalist and the author of the best-selling novels Confessions of a Shopaholic,Shopaholic Takes ManhattanShopaholic Ties the KnotShopaholic & SisterShopaholic & BabyCan You Keep a Secret?,The Undomestic Goddess, and Remember Me?. She lives in England, where she is at work on her next book. 

Writing Twenties Girl was like going on my own magical mystery tour. My U.S. editor Susan Kamil had once said casually, "You should write a ghost story one day." This comment stayed with me for years. I loved the idea, but didn't know who my ghost could be. I've always loved the glamour and spirit of the 1920s, and the idea came to me of a flapper ghost. A feisty, fun, glamorous girl who adored to dance and drink cocktails and get her own way. I wanted her to be a determined character who would blast into the life of someone with no warning and cause havoc. I then decided she should haunt a thoroughly modern girl, with all the culture clashes and comedy that would bring.

Having come up with this idea I loved it, so it then remained to plunge myself into 1920s research, which was no hardship at all, as I find the era fascinating. I researched vintage make-up, vintage dresses, read fiction from the period, investigated 1920s slang, and tried to channel as much I could of those feisty flappers who cut their hair short (shock!), smoked cigarettes in public (shock!), had sex (shock!) and generally rebelled in all the outrageous ways they could.

The book isn't a period piece though. It's a modern story about two girls and their sparky friendship, right here in the 21st century. One of them just happens to be a ghost from the 1920s. It's a quest, a romance, and a coming of age... and above all a comedy. It's no exaggeration to say that writing the character of Sadie made me look at life differently, and I hope some readers feel the same way. —Sophie Kinsella

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
ONE

The thing about lying to your parents is, you have to do it to protect them. It's for their own good. I mean, take my own parents. If they knew the unvarnished truth about my finances/love life/ plumbing/council tax, they'd have instant heart attacks and the doctor would say, "Did anyone give them a terrible shock?" and it would all be my fault. Therefore, they have been in my flat for approximately ten minutes and already I have told them the following lies:

1. L&N Executive Recruitment will start making profits soon, I'm sure of it.

2. Natalie is a fantastic business partner, and it was a really brilliant idea to chuck in my job to become a headhunter with her.

3. Of course I don't just exist on pizza, black cherry yogurts, and vodka.

4. Yes, I did know about interest on parking tickets.

5. Yes, I did watch that Charles Dickens DVD they gave me for Christmas; it was great, especially that lady in the bonnet. Yes, Peggotty. That's who I meant.

6. I was actually intending to buy a smoke alarm at the weekend, what a coincidence they should mention it.

7. Yes, it'll be nice to see all the family again.

Seven lies. Not including all the ones about Mum's outfit. And we haven't even mentioned The Subject.

As I come out of my bedroom in a black dress and hastily applied mascara, I see Mum looking at my overdue phone bill on the mantelpiece.

"Don't worry," I say quickly. "I'm going to sort that out."

"Only, if you don't," says Mum, "they'll cut off your line, and it'll take ages for you to get it installed again, and the mobile signal is so patchy here. What if there was an emergency? What would you do?" Her brow is creased with anxiety. She looks as though this is all totally imminent, as though there's a woman screaming in labor in the bedroom and floods are rising outside the window and how will we contact the helicopter? How?

"Er . . . I hadn't thought about it. Mum, I'll pay the bill. Honest."

Mum's always been a worrier. She gets this tense smile with distant, frightened eyes, and you just know she's playing out some apocalyptic scenario in her head. She looked like that throughout my last speech day at school; afterward she confessed she'd suddenly noticed a chandelier hanging above on a rickety chain and became obsessed by what would happen if it fell down on the girls' heads and splintered into smithereens?

Now she tugs at her black suit, which has shoulder pads and weird metal buttons and is swamping her. I vaguely remember it from about ten years ago, when she had a phase of going on job interviews and I had to teach her all the really basic computer stuff like how to use a mouse. She ended up working for a children's charity, which doesn't have a formal dress code, thank goodness.

No one in my family looks good in black. Dad's wearing a suit made out of a dull black fabric which flattens all his features. He's actually quite handsome, my dad, in a kind of fine-boned, understated way. His hair is brown and wispy, whereas Mum's is fair and wispy like mine. They both look really great when they're relaxed and on their own territory-like, say, when we're all in Cornwall on Dad's rickety old boat, wearing fleeces and eating pasties. Or when Mum and Dad are playing in their local amateur orchestra, which is where they first met. But today, nobody's relaxed.

"So are you ready?" Mum glances at my stockinged feet. "Where are your shoes, darling?"

I slump down on the sofa. "Do I have to go?"

"Lara!" says Mum chidingly. "She was your great-aunt. She was one hundred and five, you know."

Mum has told me my great-aunt was 105 approximately 105 times. I'm pretty sure it's because that's the only fact she knows about her.

"So what? I didn't know her. None of us knew her. This is so stupid. Why are we schlepping to Potters Bar for some crumbly old woman we didn't even ever meet?" I hunch my shoulders up, feeling more like a sulky three-year-old than a mature twenty-seven-year-old with her own business.

"Uncle Bill and the others are going," says Dad. "And if they can make the effort . . ."

"It's a family occasion!" puts in Mum brightly.

My shoulders hunch even harder. I'm allergic to family occasions. Sometimes I think we'd do better as dandelion seeds-no family, no history, just floating off into the world, each on our own piece of fluff.

"It won't take long," Mum says coaxingly.

"It will." I stare at the carpet. "And everyone will ask me about . . . things."

"No, they won't!" says Mum at once, glancing at Dad for backup. "No one will even mention . . . things."

There's silence. The Subject is hovering in the air. It's as though we're all avoiding looking at it. At last Dad plunges in.

"So! Speaking of . . . things." He hesitates. "Are you generally . . . OK?"

I can see Mum listening on super-high-alert, even though she's pretending to be concentrating on combing her hair.

"Oh, you know," I say after a pause. "I'm fine. I mean, you can't expect me just to snap back into-"

"No, of course not!" Dad immediately backs off. Then he tries again. "But you're . . . in good spirits?"

I nod assent.

"Good!" says Mum, looking relieved. "I knew you'd get over . . . things."

My parents don't say "Josh" out loud anymore, because of the way I used to dissolve into heaving sobs whenever I heard his name. For a while, Mum referred to him as "He Who Must Not Be Named." Now he's just "Things."

"And you haven't . . . been in touch with him?" Dad is looking anywhere but at me, and Mum appears engrossed in her handbag.

That's another euphemism. What he means is, "Have you sent him any more obsessive texts?"

"No," I say, flushing. "I haven't, OK?"

It's so unfair of him to bring that up. In fact, the whole thing was totally blown out of proportion. I only sent Josh a few texts. Three a day, if that. Hardly any. And they weren't obsessive. They were just me being honest and open, which, by the way, you're supposed to be in a relationship.

I mean, you can't just switch off your feelings because the other person did, can you? You can't just say, "Oh right! So your plan is, we never see each other again, never make love again, never talk or communicate in any way. Fab idea, Josh, why didn't I think of that?"

So what happens is, you write your true feelings down in a text simply because you want to share them, and next minute your ex- boyfriend changes his phone number and tells your parents. He's such a sneak.

"Lara, I know you were very hurt, and this has been a painful time for you." Dad clears his throat. "But it's been nearly two months now. You've got to move on, darling. See other young men . . . go out and enjoy yourself . . ."

Oh God, I can't face another of Dad's lectures about how plenty of men are going to fall at the feet of a beauty like me. I mean, for a start, there aren't any men in the world, everyone knows that. And a five-foot-three girl with a snubby nose and no suntan isn't exactly a beauty.

OK. I know I look all right sometimes. I have a heart-shaped face, wide-set green eyes, and a few freckles over my nose. And to top it off, I have this little bee-stung mouth which no one else in my family has. But take it from me, I'm no supermodel.

"So, is that what you did when you and Mum broke up that time in Polzeath? Go out and see other people?" I can't help throwing it out, even though this is going over old ground. Dad sighs and exchanges glances with Mum.

"We should never have told her about that," she murmurs, rubbing her brow. "We should never have mentioned it-"

"'Because if you'd done that," I continue inexorably, "you would never have got back together again, would you? Dad would never have said that he was the bow to your violin and you would never have got married."

This line about the bow and the violin has made it into family lore. I've heard the story a zillion times. Dad arrived at Mum's house, all sweaty because he'd been riding on his bike, and she'd been crying but she pretended she had a cold, and they made up their fight and Granny gave them tea and shortbread. (I don't know why the shortbread is relevant, but it always gets mentioned.)

"Lara, darling." Mum sighs. "That was very different; we'd been together three years, we were engaged-"

"I know!" I say defensively. "I know it was different. I'm just saying, people do sometimes get back together. It does happen."

There's silence.

"Lara, you've always been a romantic soul-" begins Dad.

"I'm not romantic!" I exclaim, as though this is a deadly insult. I'm staring at the carpet, rubbing the pile with my toe, but in my peripheral vision I can see Mum and Dad, each mouthing vigorously at the other to speak next. Mum's shaking her head and pointing at Dad as though to say, "You go!"

"When you break up with someone," Dad starts again in an awkward rush, "it's easy to look backward and think life would be perfect if you got back together. But-"

He's going to tell me how life is an escalator. I have to head him off, quick.

"Dad. Listen. Please." Somehow I muster my calmest tones. "You've got it all wrong. I don't want to get back together with Josh." I try to sound as if this is a ridiculous idea. "That's not why I texted him. I just wanted closure. I mean, he broke things off with no warning, no talking, no discussion. I never got any answers. It's like . . . unfinished business....


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Sophie Kinsella is the author of the bestselling Shopaholic series as well as The Undomestic Goddess, Can You Keep a Secret?, andRemember Me? She lives in England. 


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