A Sophie Kinsella novel is like a box of Valentine's Day chocolates. A pleasurable if guilty indulgence that can be entirely devoured in a single sitting if one doesn't heed the clock — or the bathroom scale.
Kinsella (the pseudonym of British writer Madeleine Wickham) built her reputation on the best-selling series of Shopaholic books that began in 2000 and revolved around that formidable weapon of mass consumption known as Becky Bloomwood. By the time the toddler-gone-amok sixth volume, Mini Shopaholic, hit bookshelves in 2010, reckless splurging was not the same reliable hoot as it was in flusher times.
But devoted fans know they can get their Sophie fix by indulging in other tomes by their favorite scribe that feature equally delightful female characters. Such is the case with her latest, I've Got Your Number (three stars out of four), which delivers all the usual Kinsella hallmarks — sharp insight into the current state of relationships crossed with laugh-out-loud screwball situations — but with a digital-age twist.
Our heroine is Poppy Wyatt, an utterly charming if insecure physiotherapist who is engaged to Magnus, a celebrity university lecturer with academic parents who derisively mock those who can't pronounce Proust — including their future daughter-in-law. The whirlwind romance is endangered after Poppy first loses her emerald engagement ring during a pre-nuptial party and then has her cellphone stolen.
Lucky for her (and the plot), she stumbles upon another phone in a nearby trash bin that belonged to the former assistant of Sam Roxton, a handsome if socially averse high-level exec at a consulting firm. Complications ensue as Poppy convinces Sam to allow her to keep the phone until her ring is found while promising to forward his messages.
Once you buy into this contrived scenario, there is fun to be had in the awkwardness involved in strangers of the opposite sex sharing a communication device. Especially when the effusive Poppy (big on lots of XXX's) decides to help out the rather terse Sam (whose missives rarely go beyond two words) by replying to his personal e-mails.
As a bonus, Poppy insists on including footnotes in her account — 112 in all, an affectation she picked up from Magnus' dissertation-happy clan. If you need a last-minute gift today for your sweetheart, grab a copy of I've Got Your Number. Just don't expect her to put down the book and pick up her phone anytime soon.