October has been an incredibly slow reading month (though I’m now finished with my very short TBR!) but it’s also proving to be a month filled with books I’ve throughly enjoyed reading, including The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella.
It’s been over two years since Effie’s beloved parents got divorced, destroying the image of the happy, loving childhood she thought she had. Since then, she’s become estranged from her father and embarked on a feud with his hot (and much younger) girlfriend, Krista. And now, more earth-shattering news: Greenoaks, the rambling Victorian country house Effie called home her whole life, has been sold.
When Krista decides to throw a grand “house cooling” party, Effie is originally left off the guest list–and then receives a last-minute “anti-invitation” (maybe it’s because she called Krista a gold-digger, but Krista totally deserved it, and it was mostly a joke anyway). Effie declines, but then remembers a beloved childhood treasure is still hidden in the house. Her only chance to retrieve it is to break into Greenoaks while everyone is busy celebrating. As Effie sneaks around the house, hiding under tables and peeping through trapdoors, she realizes the secrets Greenoaks holds aren’t just in the dusty passageways and hidden attics she grew up exploring. Watching how her sister, brother, and dad behave when they think no one is looking, Effie overhears conversations, makes discoveries, and begins to see her family in a new light. Then she runs into Joe–the love of her life, who long ago broke her heart, and who’s still as handsome and funny as ever–and even more truths emerge.
But will Effie act on these revelations? Will she stay hidden or step out into the party and take her place with her family? And truthfully, what did she really come back to Greenoaks for? Over the course of one blowout party, Effie realizes that she must be honest with herself and confront her past before she’ll ever be able to face her future.
I’m ashamed to say that this, her latest, was my first read by this beloved author. I was massively fortunate to receive an advanced copy (a huge thanks to Becky Short, Transworld Books and Sophie Kinsella on that one!) of this book and – despite my initial apprehension (only because I’d never read a book by Kinsella before) – I really enjoyed it.
Ironically, as I read this book, I’m currently in the process of packing up bits from the house I’ve lived in all my life in order to move into my own home so, in some ways, this story was very on the nose for me.
The story focuses on Effie who is beginning to see that there are cracks in the almost fairytale like childhood she and her siblings, Bean and Gus, had. Her loving Dad has gone MIA and replaced Mimi with a much younger model and, to make matters worse, they’re selling her childhood home!
Through Effie, we see her family through rose-tinted glasses but, as the story unfolds, we learn that this is not the case. It might sound a bit dramatic, and kind of sad, but this was a book littered with humour, nostalgia and bittersweet moments. At first I questioned Effie completely but as I got further and further into the story, I realised there was more to her motives and actions than you’d think.
Effie is a wonderful protagonist. Funny, relatable, figuring herself out like many of us are. She lit up the pages with her wit, sarcastic asides and wild party crashing antics.
I also really liked the family dynamic. Yes, the characters feel a bit cliche and like something you’ve probably read before but they also feel like family in it’s awkward, dysfunctional setup. Bean was absolutely gorgeous and if Kinsella was to write a book from her perspective I know I’d read it for sure. I really wished their brother, Gus, would’ve been explored a little bit more as I liked his character but he didn’t feel as fleshed out as I would’ve liked.
Any loyal readers of this blog will know, despite being a single cynic, I love a romance. The romance between Effie and Joe is so natural and so tender it excuses the fact that – unlike usual – I predicted where it was headed. Despite obstacles, including Effie’s hilarious not-quite-ex boyfriend Humph, these two come together and — let me tell you —- I was more than happy (even if I did make me pine for a hot doctor, a girl can dream!) with their ending.
It might be my first read by this author but The Party Crasher will not be my last. It is a funny, utterly bonkers contemporary novel with a bit of romance but, ultimately, a story about family and their lovely, unusual house.
You can buy this book here.