Rating: 3 out of 5
I've just finished my 19th book! I always enjoy reading Madeleine Wickham novels, but I must admit that she's greatly improved her craft ever since she started going by the pen name Sophie Kinsella. She's most famous for her Confessions of a Shopaholic series, which I haven't read, but I absolutely love all her stand-alone novels, such as Twenties Girl and The Undomestic Goddess.
I reviewed Wickham's book The Wedding Girl over the summer, and after reading dystopian classics 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, it was nice to read something less dense.A Desirable Residence (1996) follows a close-knit group of Brits who are all involved in a certain home in Silchester. Liz and Jonathan Chambers own the home, but they--along with their 14-year-old daughter Alice--needed to move into the tutorial college that they just purchased.
Stuck with two mortgages, they ask real estate agent Marcus Witherstone for help. Soon Marcus finds the Chambers family two tenants: Ginny and her actor husband Piers. Piers is up for a big TV role, and Ginny is obsessed with the life of fame and fortune that they're so close to reaching.
Depressed over the loss of their old home, Alice frequents the place and grows quite fond of hanging out with Piers and Ginny, who seem so much cooler than her parents. However, in the end, she realizes that all of the adults around her are nothing but disappointments.
Needless to say, the title of this book is ironic, because there's nothing desirable about this residence or anyone living in it. I pitied Alice and Marcus' sons, Daniel and Andrew, because they are merely pawns in this ridiculous game their parents play. Marriage, parenthood, career--nothing is sacred to these obnoxious, entitled people.
Unless you're a fan of adulterous spouses, overbearing parents, or spineless fraudsters, you are going to hate 95% of these characters. Wickham does an excellent job of depicting real-life relationships, but as Kinsella, she does the same with characters you also like and respect.
This book was interesting enough to make me want to finish it, but I think that I'll stick with the author's most recent work from now on.