Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Undomestic Goddess

There’s no other way to begin this, except to say that The Undomestic Goddess was thoroughly entertaining. Sophie Kinsella has given us another character to love. Unlike the outrageous Becky Bloomwood, we have the indomitable Samantha Sweeting. Samantha is very responsible and career focused. Shopping is likely the last thing on this young woman’s mind. What happens to her is not her fault. She copes with the situation as best she can. Though she has a mini-breakdown, becoming The Undomestic Goddess is the best thing for her.

At first, one might get the impression that Sophie Kinsella (aka Madeleine Wickham) is advocating the domestic side of women versus the career driven. As funny and wonderfully entertaining as this novel is, at the heart of it, I think, is the search for balance. There are men and women both, who become obsessed by career. Samantha was only 29 and she was obsessed by work. She’s never had a real relationship and hadn’t been on a vacation in seven years. As Iris, the wise matron said, you only get your youth once. Do you really want to waste it in office buildings? Do you want to be the sort of person who doesn’t even bother to look out the window?

I think career is important. You need goals and a way to support yourself. Yet, you need to make sure that it’s something that’s going to make you happy in the long term. Fine, you want to be a lawyer, be “a full equity partner,” but you need to be sure that in this lies your happiness and future. Samantha never thought beyond making partner. She never though beyond work. In the end, she discovered that she wanted to look out windows and have weekends off. She wanted balance.

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