SHOPAHOLIC TIES THE KNOT is the third installment in Sophie Kinsella's SHOPAHOLIC series about Becky Bloomwood, following CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC and SHOPAHOLIC TAKES MANHATTAN. But SHOPAHOLIC TIES THE KNOT is my first exposure to Kinsella's bestselling books. For those of you who are also new to Shopaholic's world, here are the main characters of the story: a self-obsessed, often whiny woman whose credit card bills are usually multiple pages in length; an overbearing, solipsistic mother-in-law whose opinion is the only one that counts; and a momma's boy husband-to-be whose life revolves around the family's (read: mother's) charitable foundation. An unattractive bunch, right? Wrong. Their foibles and faults are incredibly humorous.
In the hands of a lesser writer, SHOPAHOLIC TIES THE KNOT could have been a disaster. But Kinsella's characters are over-the-top tongue-in-cheek and hilariously funny. Living in New York and working at the perfect job --- personal shopper for fashionable Barney's --- Becky has the good life. She buys expensive furniture, antiques and clothing; hides the bills from her doting and forgiving lover; and writes scads of letters (all included in the book for your enjoyment) to banks, creditors and the like trying to explain away her expenditures, while cleverly delaying payment at the same time. When her gorgeous, wealthy boyfriend (yes, the momma's boy) proposes marriage in one of the most romantic and unexpected manners I have ever read, witnessed or experienced, it can't get any better for Becky.
"OK. Now, I may be engaged, but I'm not going to get carried away. No Way. I know some girls go mad planning the biggest wedding in the universe and thinking about nothing else...but that's not going to be me." By the end of the next page, Becky is already planning to try on diamond-encrusted tiaras for the ceremony. Weddings are, after all, a shopper's license to go all out, spare no expense and spend, spend, spend.
A dilemma verging on narrative slapstick arises quickly. Becky's mom, who has been waiting for this day since Becky's birth, begins to plan an outdoor ceremony in their backyard in England, while the control freak mother-in-law offers to splurge for a posh stateside wedding in New York City's Plaza Hotel. What's a girl to do? Well, according to "The Realistic Bride," a resource Becky consults for help, "No matter how insurmountable the problem seems, there will always be a solution! So don't worry." And that advice would work just fine if the problem were something small, like a shortage on Jordan almonds for the bridal shower favors. But Becky has to attend two weddings, on the same day, in two different countries! Wait until you read the resolution!
SHOPAHOLIC TIES THE KNOT is hilarious, a must read for shoppers and brides-to-be.
Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on January 23, 2011