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Published: Saturday, 5/17/2008

In Sophie Kinsella's new novel, our heroine finds not her prince, but herself

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Truth be told, I seem to have been typecast.

Books with pastel-colored covers and with heroines who love to shop often seem to make their way through the office to my desk. In fact, I have a bookshelf full of them and, OK I'll admit it, I've enjoyed every one.

They're gratifying because they're light, easy to read, and they don't take themselves too seriously. Remember Me?, the latest novel by Sophie Kinsella, falls squarely within that category, with the added benefit of a little lesson tucked securely in the pages.

Written by the author of Confessions of a Shopoholic, which was my first foray into the world of chick lit, Remember Me? is amusing, although admittedly with a far-fetched premise.

Lexi Smart wakes up in the hospital with her memory of the past three years erased. She has severe focal retrograde amnesia, a condition of selective amnesia brought on by a car crash. So although her last memories involve being poor, homely, having a menial job, and having no real prospects of love, she wakes up rich, gorgeous (thanks to plastic surgery and tooth veneers), the youngest executive at her company (apparently she became very driven), and with a rich, gorgeous, and successful husband (of course).

It was the perfect life, Lexi decided, albeit one that she wasn't quite sure how she obtained.

It doesn't take long for Lexi to realize - and even shorter for the reader to figure out - that this life isn't what dreams are made of. She comes to realize that her initial thoughts about her recently discovered life were far from reality.

Because with the gain of outward beauty and wealth, Lexi discovers that she has given up aspects of beauty and wealth that are far more fulfilling. It's admittedly cliche, but Lexi discovers that she has given up the beauty within that comes with liking who you are and the wealth of friendship and true happiness.

"It's not me! It's not! I'm not this person! I won't be her!" It's an exclamation that Lexi makes once that realization of her life really hits home.

Remember Me? isn't supposed to be deep and it certainly isn't supposed to be a study of the medical aspects of amnesia. It's supposed to be fun. It's supposed to reach out to something within all of us. It's supposed to be the story of a life coveted, a life gained, and eventually a life no longer desired.

And in these areas, Remember Me? succeeds.

Lexi learns that people think her to be a snake - Cobra is her nickname, in fact - and she discovers that what she loved about her "old" life was lost when she started living her new one. Her friends hate her, she lives by the rules of a stringent husband, and she has given up the little things in her life - like colorful clothing and draping "fairy lights" throughout her apartment - that make her smile.

She gives up the things that make her who she really is.

" When I woke up, I thought I'd landed the dream life. I thought I was Cinderella. I was better than Cinderella. I thought I must be the happiest girl in the world." Lexi utters these words to a man she learns she was having an affair with. The confession, on page 329, puts words to what the reader knows Lexi has figured out.

"You once said, if you could go back in time and do everything differently, you would " she is told.

Although Lexi may never regain her memory, she knows she has to do whatever she can to regain her life.

There is a little piece in all of us who wishes for something different in life, something more. In a breezy tone and with some laughs along the way, Kinsella shows us that the way to change an aspect of your life is not necessarily to forget what brought you there but instead to remember that you can change direction at any time.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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