Book Review: Sophie Says by Judy Balan

Sophie_Says_Judy_BalanEver since I read Sophie Kinsella’s I’ve Got Your Number, I’ve developed a new-found love for “chick lit”. I thought it was all sugary sweet teeny-bopper love stories, and I really have outgrown those. But it isn’t! It’s romance all right, but pretty darn believable, told from a woman’s perspective with issues that modern women can totally relate to. But I’m still skeptical about Indian chick-lit, largely because I’m skeptical about most Indian authors. So when I got an opportunity to review Judy Balan’s Sophie Says, I took it – mainly because the story sounded interesting.

Sophia Tilgum has dated all kinds of men in thirty years. Men who’ve stalked and pleaded, men who’ve lied and cheated, men who’ve written songs and wanted to play house after three dates. And equally scary, men who’ve sported hot-pink bow ties and called her Sweet Cheeks.

So after a decade-long attempt at sustaining long-term relationships, Sophie has finally thrown in the towel and has found her calling as The Breakup Coach via her super-popular blog: Sophie Says – in which she makes a case for Single-Singles or people who are wired to remain single (because according to Sophie, commitment phobia is not a real thing) and shares her many theories on breakups.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Each chapter is followed by a breakup theory, and they’re really hilarious! The book starts with Sophie quitting her job as an editor at a consulting firm because she’s fed-up of being told to “stick to the template”. (Something that I am oh so familiar with!) She figures she has enough saved up to stay home for a while and figure out what to do next.

But her peace and quiet is broken by the Blah-Blah Auntyhood – three aunties who are out to coerce Sophie into finding a ‘respectable’ boyfriend so that her cousin’s arranged marriage may proceed smoothly. Not knowing how to deal with their nosiness, Sophie blurts out that she’s in a relationship. As soon as the words leave her mouth, she realizes just what she’s done, as the Blah-Blah Auntyhood immediately goes over to her parents house to share the “wonderful news”.

So Sophie does what needs to be done, speaks to a close friend to ask him to arrange for a “fake boyfriend”. She thinks she’ll be able to handle him until her cousin’s wedding, but he’s oh-so-irresistible. And he has a condition of his own – that she agree to follow his relationship advice, because he’s convinced that she’s just commitment phobic and needs to get over it. Add to this mix a very complicated If-Someday Guy, Yatan. Once he realizes that Sophie may be falling for Rahul, he promptly comes back to India to beg her not to leave him. To top it all off, her two best friends are suffering from completely different boy troubles, all of which ensures that Sophie’s life is about to turn into one of those hilarious sitcoms that is fun for everyone but her.

This is a wonderfully written book, which is hilarious and thought provoking in parts. Even though I am not commitment phobic and quite like my men to pay me sweet little compliments sometimes, I found myself nodding along to a lot of the sage advice offered by the Breakup Coach. Although I don’t think men like Rahul exist – or if they do, they’re a very well-hidden lot that I’ve never come across – Sophie Says is a perfect summer afternoon read – light-hearted, well written and laugh out loud funny.

Disclaimer: I got the book from the publisher, but the review and opinions expressed are my own.

Book Reviews: I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

I've got your number by Sophie KinsellaWhen Poppy Wyatt loses her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill she goes into a state of panic. After all, who wouldn’t? That’s the one thing you’re really not supposed to lose, especially when it’s been in your fiancé’s family for three generations! To add insult to injury, in the panic that follows the loss of her ring, her phone is stolen. As she paces around the hotel lobby in a state of borderline hysteria, Poppy chances upon a phone in a trash can. After a quick internal debate, she picks the phone up and passes the “new” number around to the hotel staff and…gets a call. From the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, who isn’t amused that she has “stolen” his PA’s phone. Somehow, Poppy manages to convince him to let her keep the phone just until she finds her ring, and promises to forward all messages and emails that come on that phone to him at once. But sharing a phone isn’t easy, as both of them soon find out.

This is my first Sophie Kinsella novel and I must say I enjoyed it. Poppy’s character is brilliant. She’s like this lost babe in the woods with a heart of gold who couldn’t bear to hurt a fly. And if this sounds really clichéd, just trust me when I say this – you will end up falling in love with her. Guaranteed! Sam is diametrically her opposite – a hard-nosed businessman who seems to have no time for friends and family. He sends one-word responses to emails and ignores most of his correspondence – something that drives poor Poppy totally bonkers. In fact, all of the characters in this book are properly three-dimensional, not cardboard cut-outs or “stock characters”.

Also, if you think chick lit is nothing but mushy romance, this novel will put that thought to rest. There are a lot of subtle underlying messages through the book. One is our dependence on technology. When Poppy loses her phone, she feels like she’s lost a part of herself, like an arm or a leg. Then, as she starts reading through Sam’s emails while forwarding them (after all, it’s difficult not to give in to curiosity and read an email when you’re opening it to forward it on, isn’t it?) she forms an image of him as a hard-nosed businessman who has no time for friends or family. But that turns out to be incorrect, as she finds out to her utter humiliation. Kinsella also warns against meddling in other people’s affairs, as Poppy makes one blunder after the next, all in an effort to – as she sees it – help Sam. Then there’s Poppy’s unwillingness to confront people, which Sam points out to her when he goes through her messages. After all, if you remember, the phone does belong to him! Quite a tangle, wouldn’t you agree? The development of their romance is gradual, making you believe that their love is meant to last as they both balance each other perfectly.

Kinsella is now on my list of go-to authors for a relaxed holiday read, just behind Mave Binchy. If you’re looking for a light-hearted read, I would heartily recommend this book.