Backlist Revew: A Desirable Residence by Madeleine Wickham

Thursday, May 7, 2015
Title: A Desirable Residence
Author: Madeleine Wickham/Sophie Kinsella
Genre: general fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 320
Published: 2011
Source: borrowed
Rating: 2/5

From the author of the internationally bestselling Sophie Kinsella novels, Madeleine Wickham's newest novel features a house whose asking price includes a stunning renovation of dreams and hearts...

Liz and Jonathan Chambers were stuck with two mortgages, mounting debts and a miserable adolescent daughter. Then Marcus Witherstone came into their lives - and it seemed he would solve all their problems. He knew the perfect tenants from London who would rent their old house: a glamorous PR girl, Ginny, and her almost-famous husband, Piers. But soon Liz is lost in blissful dreams of Marcus, Jonathan is left to run their tutorial college, and neither of them has time to notice that their teenage daughter is developing a passion for the tenants, Piers and Ginny. Everyone is entangled with everyone else, in the most awkward possible way. And as events close in, they all begin to realize that some deceptions are just a bit too close to home.

What an utter waste of time. The consolidated three hours it took for me to complete this tome of one-dimensional, unlikeable characters is 180 minutes I'd like back. I am disappointed that it is Sophie Kinsella behind this void of charm. Usually her books are fun and engaging; full of wit and charm and memorable characters. I found almost none of her usual hallmarks in this latest novel.

There are seven characters; none of which seemed remotely convincing or valid. Most were vapid and so distasteful I wanted them to be caught out on their nefarious deeds. One character, Liz, was especially heinous and off-putting. I loathed that character. Any time the narrative was about Liz was a nadir for the book; just unrepentantly selfish, awful and unsympathetic. And worse than that, she was just plain uninteresting.

This is certainly a misfire from an author who usually writes warmhearted, lovable characters with interesting and personal storylines. Nothing really clicked or felt more than average in scope or detail; the love affairs aren't steamy, the revelations aren't that shocking, and the last quarter of the novel lacks any real resolution for ANY of the hastily-drawn characters. A very frustrating, pointless read.


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