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Novel highlights hilarious shopping antics

Observer Scene | Monday, March 21, 2005

“Confessions of a Shopaholic” is the perfect getaway. The first two pages of Sophie Kinsella’s high-energy novel are the hook as the reader is immediately drawn into the developing plot.

The book’s main theme is just what the cover suggests – “going broke was never this much fun …” Kinsella’s lead character, Becky Bloomwood, finds herself in a financial debacle with stacks of bills from Visa, her bank and other places Becky likes to shop. She gives her best efforts to duck out of the bills, yet keeps shopping as though she is not in debt.

At one point, Becky picks up the mail, sees a bill from her bank and slides it into a hole in the ground that workers are about to fill with cement. Any tactics that will allow Becky to claim she never saw the bill are considered. She can be quite creative, and her actions are simply so absurd that she makes you laugh until you cry.

The problem with Becky is that she’s a shopaholic. She can’t make herself stop buying the most frivolous things, no matter how hard she tries. Despite the haunting bills, letters and phone calls, Becky spends enormous amounts of money on a daily basis for things she believes are necessities. However, in any other person’s mind, her buying habits are highly unhealthy and unnecessary. But she continues and finds great joy in doing so.

Becky works as a financial journalist in downtown London and lives in a beautiful apartment with her best friend, Suzy, in London’s trendiest neighborhood alongside her group of socialite friends, complete with a closet full of the season’s chicest fashions.

Realizing she is in trouble, Becky first attempts to cut back her addiction by purchasing a book called “Controlling Your Cash,” by David E. Barton. Her efforts to see her pitfalls and what she spends money on are quite hilarious. Every page was full of laughter detailing how Becky manages to dig herself deeper into debt.

Becky then attempts to make more money by getting another job and by making crafts out of her own home. But both of these only provide more trouble for Becky. She certainly has a knack for getting in tight spots. When something goes wrong for Becky, she turns to shopping to feel better. This does not help her financial situation, but she feels it eases her emotions. And that’s the important thing for her.

Finally, after her spit of bad luck, Becky actually finds a story that offers her some interest. Her neighbors are in trouble, and she wants to help them. Although she is not confident in her skills as a reporter, she gives it her best shot. Little does she know the events to follow will change her life forever – both socially and financially.

Kinsella is a former financial journalist and the author of the four bestselling “Shopaholic” novels, in addition to her stand-alone New York Times bestseller, “Can you keep a Secret?” She lives in England, where she is at work on her next novel. Kinsella attended university at Oxford, where she studied politics, philosophy and economics before getting her first job as a junior assistant on a magazine for retirees.

Kinsella’s books are sold in more than 31 countries and are translated into more than 30 languages. She is married, has two sons, and her husband heads the classics department at a boy’s grammar school in England. Kinsella, as mentioned on her Web site, loves to shop but likes to think that she keeps herself in better check than her character, Becky Bloomwood.