Imagine if you will a character with the shoe-shopping fervor of Imelda Marcos, the trendy fashion sense of a British Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City) and the meager budget of, I don't know, say, Marge Simpson. Who am I describing? Rebecca Bloomwood, Sophie Kinsella's endearing main character in CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC.
Becky Bloomwood is the personification of the expression "living beyond ones means." Becky craves the good stuff: Prada, Ravel, Dior and Chanel, but she lives off the wages of a low-on-the-totem-pole financial writer for Successful Savings, a low-on-the-totem-pole financial rag.
Hounded by debt and seemingly incapable of controlling her urge to purchase, Becky concocts excuse after excuse and scheme after scheme for not paying up. From glandular fever to broken legs, from flinding God to fending off imaginary stalkers, Becky pens hilarious explanatory missives to the only true stalkers in her life --- Visa and the bank.
So desperate is Becky at one point that she decides the lottery is the answer to all her problems. "I wouldn't aim to win the jackpot of course --- that's completely unlikely. But one of those minor prizes. There seem to be heaps of those going around. Say L100,000. That would do. I could pay off all my debts, buy a car, buy a flat ... Actually better make it L200,000. Or a quarter of a million. Or, even better, one of those shared Jackpots. 'The five winners will each receive L1.3Million.' ... One point three million should see me straight?"
When the lottery doesn't pan out (what were the odds?), she takes Dad's suggestion: frugality. Becky buys a book called CONTROLLING YOUR CASH, the answer to her prayers. She begins by cutting out expensive lunches (meaning an hour of shopping, followed by a quick overpriced cappuccino and biscotti). She packs a cheese sandwich and bottled juice, devours them in five minutes at her desk come lunchtime, and then desperate to find a way to fill the remaining 55 minutes of her break "a brilliant thought" occurs to her: she needs a cookbook in order to do some homecooking, doesn't she. So off to the shops she goes. Ahhhh, she sighs.
With every failed attempt to save, make money or marry the 15th most eligible bachelor in London, she consoles herself with another expensive but oh-so-fabulous trinket --- perpetuating her habit and her troubles. At each turn, Becky sinks deeper and deeper into debt and dishonesty. And just when she has sunk as low as she can, Kinsella resurrects and redeems her. Becky uncovers a headline-making financial story, makes a name for herself, and ... well, I don't want to spoil it for you. I'll just say there's a multimillionaire involved who could give Prince Charming a run for his money.
CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC is bound to make you a Sophie-holic. Invest in this one, and then accessorize with the others in the series: SHOPAHOLIC TAKES MANHATTAN and SHOPAHOLIC TIES THE KNOT.
Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on November 4, 2003
Confessions of a Shopaholic