As ever, thanks to Blogs of a Bookaholic for creating this challenge. 🙂
This is a tough post that I’ve been dragging my heels over! Thus far, all books I’ve ever read have fallen into two categories: those I’ve enjoyed and those I haven’t. All books that fall into the former category aren’t ones I feel guilty about reading or admitting to reading. There have however been some that I was surprised to find myself enjoying. So this post’ll be a ‘yay’ type one about a book (and genre) that blew my mind.
I feel duty-bound to point out to anyone who gets to the last paragraph that younger-me had lots of preconceived notions about the world, including chick-lit. I also feel duty-bound to point out that one of the joys of having these preconceived notions was- and still is- to have them challenged and re-evaluate them. I am a Humanities student, after all. 😉
The book in question’s called The Secret Shopper’s Revenge by Kate Harrison.
The story follows the lives of three women: single-mum-and-not-loving-it Emily, recently unemployed Sandie and Grazia, a glamorous widow who’s lived beyond her means so long that she’s almost out of cash. The three are thrown together when offered jobs as mystery shoppers for the same company.
I know it may sound a tad formulaic but this book challenged quite a few of the preconceptions I had about chick-lit. For starters its three main characters were all distinct characters with different life experiences and different outlooks on life. Each chapter’s written through the viewpoint of one of the three and Harrison really gets the different voices and perspectives on the world across. Each character has a distinct story line but the three band together and support each other over the story.
It wasn’t just the variety of supportive, intelligent female characters that won me over to the genre. Harrison also included a sub-plot that celebrated the family-oriented and creative approach of Central and Eastern Europeans which was pretty darn socially advanced at the time of publication (2008) when England as a whole was still pretty much against immigrants from that neck of the woods… not that Eastern Europeans get the best media portrayal in 2014 either, but it’s improved a little for non-Romanians and non-Bulgarians…
By espousing such modern and socially-minded views, Harrison made me realise that instead of being a superficial and capitalist genre that epitomised everything I disliked about literature aimed at women (such as ‘women’s’ magazines that always tell us that we can look better and lose more weight and that it is these things that should give us our sense of self and self-worth), chick-lit is something that can be read with pride and joy.