2008, Chick Lit
Dial, $25.00, 289 pages, Amazon ASIN 0385338724
Sophie Kinsella's newest book, Remember Me?, dangles from an interesting premise: What if you woke up tomorrow and everything that you didn't like about your life was transformed?
In 2004 Lexi Smart had a crap job, a crap boyfriend, crap teeth, and a crap future. She was a bit pudgy, more than a bit unfinished, and her father had just died. Running to catch a taxi on the night before his funeral, Lexi falls and hits her head. The next morning she wakes up in the hospital. But it's not the next morning. It's 2007.
Lexi can't remember anything from the intervening three years, but it's apparent to her that they've been eventful. She's lost significant weight. Her teeth have been fixed. Her hair is expensively done. And she has a husband. A perfect, super-rich, very handsome husband, Eric, who dotes over her and is so relieved she's okay. Lexi also learns that she's now the boss at her job, the manager of the carpet division of Deller Carpets. She's a high-powered executive now and makes a great income. Her employees – who include several of her good friends – fear her. Her nickname is "The Cobra."
All of this is more than a little unsettling. Lexi now has the perfect life. But how perfect is perfection, really?
There have been incidents throughout history – one of the most famous of them being Phineas Gage, a man who had his frontal lobe speared with a metal rod – in which people who suffer brain injuries have had radical personality changes. It appears that a similar thing happened to Lexi. From her fall emerged a more confident, ruthless, ambitious Lexi, the kind of woman who can make anything happen and does. Lexi who has always felt a bit out of control, has a hard time reconciling this new Lexi to her old self. She's hurt by the fact that her old friends despise her and appalled to learn she may have been having an affair with Jon, the sexy architect from her husband's firm. Just who was this interim Lexi and where did she come from?
Watching Lexi discover her fancy new self and her fancy new life is both fascinating and amusing. The author's humor is mild and predicated on embarrassment, but it's effectively funny. As is the case with most Kinsella heroines, Lexis both underestimates her abilities and frequently gets in over her head because she doesn't want to appear inept. Trying to fake a job and a relationship with no information about either, Lexi fails frequently – with style.
The book does have a rather sweet romantic subplot, but it's not immediately apparent how this will play out since Lexi has forgotten both of the men who claim to love her. Readers who have experience with the author will recognize the creatively brilliant, rich, down-to-earth and wry hero when he shows up, though, even if her alleged infidelity is troubling.
Kinsella's readers will also recognize these themes: perfection can be stifling, work is important but should not be everything, and "real" people are more about vulnerable substance than invulnerable surface.
With its fun premise Remember Me? is able to explore some interesting ideas with humor and insight. Lexi Smart is a likable heroine most readers will be rooting for even as the many sides to her overall character are exposed. This is solid, enjoyable Chick Lit.
-- Rachel Potter
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