Twenties Girl (Kinsella)

Twenties Girl
Sophie Kinsella, 2009
Random House
448 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780385342032

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. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Aka—Madeleine Wickham
Birth—December 12, 1969
Where—London, England, UK
Education—B.A., Oxford University, M.Mus., King's College,
Currently—lives in London, England

Madeleine Sophie Wickham (born Madeleine Sophie Townley) is an English author of chick lit who is most known for her work under the pen name Sophie Kinsella.

Madeleine Wickham was born in London. She did her schooling in Putney High School and Sherborne School for Girls. She studied music at New College, Oxford, but after a year switched to Politics, Philosophy and Economics. She then worked as a financial journalist (including for Pensions World) before turning to fiction.

While working as a financial journalist, at the age of 24, she wrote her first novel. The Tennis Party (1995) was immediately hailed as a success by critics and the public alike and became a top ten bestseller. She went on to publish six more novels as Madeleine Wickham: A Desirable Residence (1996), Swimming Pool Sunday (1997), The Gatecrasher (1998), The Wedding Girl (1999), Cocktails for Three (2000), and Sleeping Arrangements (2001).

Her first novel under the pseudonym Sophie Kinsella (taken from her middle name and her mother's maiden name) was submitted to her existing publishers anonymously and was enthusiastically received. She revealed her real identity for the first time when Can You Keep a Secret? was published in 2005.

Sophie Kinsella is best known for writing the Shopaholic novels series, which focus on the misadventures of Becky Bloomwood, a financial journalist who cannot manage her own finances. The series focuses on her obsession with shopping and its resulting complications for her life. The first two Shopaholic books—Confessions of a Shopaholic (2000) and Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (2001) were adapted into a film in February 2009, with Isla Fisher playing an American Becky and Hugh Dancy as Luke Brandon. The latest addition to the Shopaholic series, Mini shopaholic came out in 2010.

Can you Keep a Secret (2004), was also published under the name Sophie Kinsella, as were The Undomestic Goddess (2006),  Remember Me (2008), Twenties Girl (2009), I've Got Your Number (2012), and Wedding Night (2013). All are stand-alone novels (not part of the Shopaholic series).

A new musical adaptation by Chris Burgess of her 2001 novel Sleeping Arrangements premiered in 2013 in London at The Landor Theatre.

Personal life
Wickham lives in London with her husband, Henry Wickham (whom she met in Oxford), the headmaster of a boys' preparatory school. They have been married for 17 years and have five children. She is the sister of fellow writer, Gemma Townley. (From Wikipedia.)

Excerpts from a 2004 Barnes & Noble interview:

• "I am a serial house mover: I have moved house five times in the last eight years! But I'm hoping I might stay put in this latest one for a while.

• "I've never written a children's book, but when people meet me for the first time and I say I write books, they invariably reply, 'Children's books?' Maybe it's something about my face. Or maybe they think I'm J. K. Rowling!

• "If my writing comes to a halt, I head to the shops: I find them very inspirational. And if I get into real trouble with my plot, I go out for a pizza with my husband. We order a pitcher of Long Island Iced Tea and start talking—and basically keep drinking and talking till we've figured the glitch out. Never fails!"

• Favorite leisure pursuits: a nice hot bath, watching The Simpsons, playing table tennis after dinner, shopping, playing the piano, sitting on the floor with my two small boys, and playing building blocks and Legos.

• Least favorite leisure pursuit: tidying away the building blocks and Legos.

When asked what book most influenced her career as a writer, here is her answer

My earliest, most impactful encounter with a book was when I was seven and awoke early on Christmas morning to find Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in my stocking. I had never been so excited by the sight of a book—and have possibly never been since! I switched on the light and read the whole thing before the rest of my family even woke up. I think that's when my love affair with books began. (Interview from Barnes & Noble.)

Book Reviews
Think Topper, that impossibly sophisticated and goofy 1937 ghost tale of blithe spirits bugging the only living soul who can hear them. Kinsella creates an equally vexing and endearing shade, Sadie, a wild-at-heart flapper with unfinished earthly business who badgers 27-year-old great-niece Lara into doing her bidding. Predictable mayhem and the most delicious and delightful romp a ghost and girl-at-loose-ends could ever have in 21st century London ensue. Sadie discovers just how loved she really is, and Lara channels her inner '20s girl to discover the difference between wanting to be in love and finding love. Kinsella, a master of comic pacing and feminine wit (see: the wildly successful Shopaholic series), casts a bigger net with this piece of fun and fluff, weaving family dynamics and an old-fashioned mystery into the familiar chick lit romance. And there's a sweet nod to old folks ("All that white hair and wrinkled skin is just cladding.... They were all young, with love affairs and friends and parties and an endless life ahead of them"). It's a breath of crackling fresh air that may well keep readers warm right through winter.
Publishers Weekly

Struggling Londoner gets the shock of a lifetime when the meddlesome ghost of a recently deceased relative haunts her. Between relationship woes, work dramas and the day-to-day life of a city gal, Lara could probably be excused for having minimal contact with Great-Aunt Sadie during the last years of her life. The woman was, after all, 105 and confined to a nursing home. Still, Lara feels guilty when hardly anyone shows up to the old lady's funeral. Her sadness quickly gives way to confusion, though, as first the voice and then the form of a 1920s flapper appear before her. It's Sadie in her youth, and Lara is the only one she can communicate with directly. Opinionated, loud and self-absorbed, Sadie is primarily interested in retrieving a lost necklace before moving on to her final rest, but she's also determined to squeeze in a bit more action. To this end she sets her sights on a handsome young American named Ed who reminds her of Rudolph Valentino. Using her supernatural powers, Sadie gets into Ed's head and convinces him to ask out Lara, who is still hung up on her ex, the unworthy Josh. This results in an understandably awkward first date during which Sadie dictates, Cyrano-style, what Lara should do to seduce Ed. Lara, for her part, gets a lead on the missing piece of jewelry and uncovers Sadie's tragic past as an artist's muse, unjustly separated from the only man she really loved. In spite of their differences (the whole living vs. dead thing) the two grow close, and Lara takes some steps in her personal and professional life that she probably would not have taken without the freewheeling flapper by her side. Kinsella (Remember Me?, 2008, etc.) is in her element with scattered, wisecracking Lara, and Sadie (and her outfits) are fabulous. But this one goes on a bit longer than necessary. 
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions

Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for Twenties Girl:

1. How do Sadie and Lara differ in personality? What does Sadie want Lara to do with her life?

2. What do the two eventually come to have in common?

3. Both Sadie and Lara want to find the missing necklace, but both have different motives for wanting to find it. What are they?

4. Twenties Girl has been described as a coming-of-age story in which a young protagonist learns something that enables her to cross over into the adult world, more mature and wise than before. What does Lara learn by the end of the novel?

(Usually, LitLovers claims credit for its questions, asking only for attribution if used. But not these—there's no pride of authorship here.)

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