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September 27

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Review: Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

by Ann-Katrina

Can You Keep a Secret? Cover

From the Back Cover of Can You Keep a Secret?

Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets:

Secrets from her boyfriend:
I’ve always thought Connor looks a bit like Ken. As in Barbie and Ken.

Secrets from her mother:
I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom with Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben-Hur

Secrets she wouldn’t share with anyone in the world:
I have no idea what NATO stands for. Or even what it is.

Until she spills them all to a handsome stranger on a plane. At least, she thought he was a stranger…. Until Emma comes face-to-face with Jack Harper, the company’s elusive CEO, a man who knows every single humiliating detail about her…

Three Quick Points About Can You Keep a Secret?

  • Point 1: Emma Corrigan bears a striking resemblance to Bridget Jones–not necessarily in appearance, but personality, deed and sheer life circumstances.
  • Point 2: This book redefines the statement laugh out loud funny. From beginning to end, I found myself pausing to have a good belly laugh at some of the antics and situations in which Emma found herself.
  • Point 3: The British quips and expressions were rather charming from my Americanized viewpoint. Although I’m still not entirely certain what a jumper is, am still unsure whether snogging is kissing or having sex, and it took me a few pages to recognize that having a row meant having an argument, I found reading through it all added to the amusement.

Full Review of Can You Keep a Secret?

Before reading the full review, please note that there may be some spoilers. I tried to keep it vague enough not to spoil the entire story, but be warned. If you’d rather not take any chances, skip the synopsis and go straight to the final thoughts.

Can You Keep a Secret? Synopsis

From the onset, it seems that Emma Corrigan’s life is on the fast track to nowhere and she just can’t catch a break. After the worst day imaginable, just when you believe nothing could get much worse in Emma’s world, a flight attendant takes mercy on her and upgrades her to business class.

When her irrational fear of flying, combined with the turbulence flinging the plane every which way, Emma truly believes she’s going to die and starts prattling off all of her little secrets to the gentleman sitting next to her and she doesn’t stop until they land–still very much alive–and they part ways, expecting never to see one another again.

No big deal until she gets back to work on Monday and finds out the founder of the company, Jack Harper, has scheduled a visit and Jack turns out to be the stranger on the plane–and he remembers everything. As you can imagine, much hilarity ensues as he uses the knowledge gained “under duress” to keep Emma on her toes. But he does far more than that, he completely changes her life.

Since meeting Jack Harper, Emma broke it off with her seemingly perfect boyfriend, told her parents how she truly feels about her cousin Kerry, and had all her private secrets laid out on display and became the ridicule of all her friends and co-workers. Then, to make an already stressful situation even more stressful, she realizes that she knows nothing about the man who knows everything about her. And with the help of her roommate, Jemima, who has absolutely no redeeming qualities that I’ve been able to find, weaves Emma into an even more tangled web with Jack.

Luckily Emma does end up getting the guy. Now, if you believe that I’m giving away the biggest spoiler possible by telling you that, you’re probably not very familiar with the modern fairytale genre. It’s not so much about the end (because you already know there’s a happily ever after), it’s more about how we relate to the protagonist and how she copes with the hills and valleys she encounters on her way to the happily ever after. And trust me, our heroine is quite sympathetic and there are plenty of hills and valleys for her to conquer.

Final Thoughts On Can You Keep a Secret?

From the very beginning, this book was fraught with unfortunate circumstances, miscommunication, misunderstandings, and illogical decisions which all add to the hilarity of this novel.

The main character, Emma Corrigan, who narrates the story in a spunky, and sometimes bitingly sarcastic, way is very sympathetic. More than once, I found myself feeling utterly sorry for her and praying she would get a lucky break or find a secret stash of courage somewhere.

Sometimes, however, the novel became a bit predictable. For instance, when Emma wants to impress Jack by taking him to a posh secret nightclub, she ends up forgetting where it is. It wasn’t difficult to see that coming from a mile away. But, for the most part, the situations that crop up keeps the reader on her toes as it does Emma.

The cast of characters was delightful. Lissy, Emma’s priggish, quirky, and smart best friend/roommate, Jemima, Emma and Lissy’s selfish gold-digging vixen of a roommate, Connor, Emma’s really good looking, but slow on the social uptake boyfriend, and even Emma’s co-workers were all well crafted. The notable exception, however, was Sven who seemed to be Jack’s shadow. It’s not entirely clear who Sven is or what purpose he serves–he just seems randomly placed in the story for no apparent reason.

(Confession: Every time Jemima’s name came up, I couldn’t help imagining Aunt Jemima which made it difficult to connect with her. I finally got over it by mentally renaming her Gemma. She still had no redeeming qualities and frankly, I wondered why Emma and Lissy even put up with her.)

Although the storyline is farfetched–meeting the founder of the company where you work on a flight and blurting out every single one of your secrets to him and then later falling madly in love with him?–it’s a smooth and entertaining read. All the pieces, except a very glaring one–Jack’s big secret which, quite frankly, made me roll my eyes–fit together quite well.

If you enjoyed the movies How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Holiday, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, then there’s a 99.9% chance you’ll enjoy Can You Keep a Secret?.

Rating: Worth every penny (?)

Comments on Review: Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

  1. # Brie wrote on September 28, 2008 at 3:14 pm:

    Sounds like a lot of fun. I did wonder about the name Jemima, it threw me in your review. Seriously, Jemima? The connotations that come with that name don’t work so well with some Americans, but I’m sure has no meaning with British. Anyway, I loved Bridget Jones’ Diary and will look out for this one.

  2. # Ann-Kat wrote on September 29, 2008 at 12:39 pm:

    Brie, you could be quite right. I’ve just finished another book written by a Briton and the name Jemima has come up once again. I’m thinking that it may just be a common name in British culture. Luckily it wasn’t used throughout, as it was in Can You Keep a Secret?, but it did make me raise an eyebrow when I came across it. :)

  3. # 2008 in Books, or the Ten Books I’m Glad I Read This Year - Today, I Read… wrote on December 31, 2008 at 5:34 pm:

    [...] You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella (review) Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little [...]

  4. # Shannon (Giraffe Days) wrote on June 1, 2011 at 11:23 am:

    I’m just finishing up my review and was looking for other blogs to link to for reference – your review was great reading! I find that all Kinsella’s heroines sound like Bridget Jones so it doesn’t bother me anymore. ;)

    I’m curious now about Jemima – what’s the issue with the name in America?

    If it helps, snogging = kissing (shagging = sex) and a jumper is a sweater. :)

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