A hilarious and heart-warming romp through the shops in our first introduction to Kinsella’s loveable Becky Bloomwood. I read this book in one hit, devouring it with the same enthusiasm our heroine, Becky, has for Harrods.
I have re-read The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic at least five times and it makes me deliriously happy every time. If you are looking for a light, amusing read with laugh-out-loud, madcap moments – curl up with a glass of wine, and prepare to enter the crazy world of a serious shopaholic.
Becky loves to shop and nothing will stand in her way of a Denny & George scarf, swirly Whistles coat or great pair of clementine-coloured shoes.
The problem is, Becky’s champagne tastes run on a beer budget – letters from the credit card company are piling up and her kill-joy bank manager, Derek Smythe, is on her case in a major way.
Becky’s job as a financial journalist at the dreary Successful Savings magazine, means she is an expert at advising others how to be more savvy with their savings. But as she bangs out her news articles, she dreams of the shops. And she goes to the shops. Often.
As her debts creep out of control, Becky realises she must follow one of two financial principles to clamber out of dead – Make More Money, or the dreaded, Cutting Back.
Becky’s journey tells the cautionary tale of the struggles of a shopping addict in Kinsella’s light, humorous style. In true chick lit style, just as it seems Becky can sink no lower, a magnificent last-minute comeback from our girl saves the day.
Becky is my ultimate chick lit heroine. What girl can’t relate to that lustful desire to buy the shoes even when you know your credit card is maxed out? Becky is warm, relatable and utterly hilarious. Her energy and enthusiasm bounce the stories along nicely with some madcap moments that are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny.
The Shopaholic hallmark starts every book with Becky frantically telling herself not to panic – ‘OK, don’t panic. Don’t panic. It’s only a VISA bill,’ as she spirals deeper into a series of unfortunate calamities.
Becky’s lovable nature and loyalty to her family and friends keeps the reader on her side even when she’s at her absolute flakiest. Her love interest, PR guru, Luke Brandon, is a charming yet brooding businessman with undertones of Sex and the City’s Mr Big.
There is also more than a touch of Carrie to be found in Kinsella’s Becky. Both characters enjoy the good life, witty quips and closets groaning under the weight of designer clothes they can ill-afford.
Throughout the Shopaholic series, Becky’s appearance remains a mystery. We all know how it usually works – our heroine catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror lamenting her unruly, curly brown hair and curvy hips. “At least I’ve always loved my big, blue eyes,” she might reflect.
Not so, with Becky – a clever move by Kinsella as it allows the reader to conjure up how Becky’s appearance in their own imagination. Becky is the quintessential girl next door and in encouraging us to imagine ourselves how she looks, it allows her to represent ‘every girl’ in whom we can all see a little of ourselves reflected.
I cannot say enough good things about this book and the sheer pleasure Kinsella’s writing gives me. Yes, the covers of this series are schmaltzy and the titles are naff. But do you know what? It doesn’t matter.
This no bland chick lit – this is really funny stuff with some brilliant characters that grow and grow on you as the series develops. I am completely in love with Becky’s parents – Jane and Graham Bloomwood from Oxshott, Surrey; and Janice, an interfering, yet well-meaning neighbour partial to a tipple of sherry.
I also challenge any reader not to fall a little bit in love with Luke Brandon. He is a suave, successful workaholic and grounding presence in Becky’s life. Where Becky is flighty and flips from one harebrained scheme to another, Luke remains solid and dependable.
I love that this book has the ability to transport you to Becky’s sometimes glamorous world of shiny shops and beautiful things, “A simple sleeveless dress from Whistles, the highest of Jimmy Choos, a pair of stunning uncut amethyst earrings. This is investment shopping. The biggest investment of my life.”
And then the reader – and Becky – are quickly bumped back to earth by the realities of her shopping addiction. Is Becky vacuous and shallow at time? Yes, of course, but we need her to be in order for her to realise the wicked error of her ways as the book progresses.
The question of whether the flighty Becky is worthy of Luke’s affections has been the subject of some debate. I am totally Team Becky. Of course she is! Luke is bored with work and life, and Becky blows into his world and makes him laugh. For every disaster she creates, she is constantly surprising him – in a good way – with her next move.
To my wild excitement, The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic, was turned into a movie, Confessions of a Shopaholic, starring Isla Fischer as Rebecca in 2009. Sadly, but predictably, the movie could no way compete with Kinsella’s fresh, funny writing-style.
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