The Shopaholic Series: A Delight for the Compulsive Shopper

I know very few women who can resist a sale or dismiss retail therapy as a sure shot solution to their life-type problems. Since time immemorial, many people have dismissed retail therapy as a farce, or a temporary salvation. Though in my humble opinion, shopping is a sacrosanct activity. So when I discovered The Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella (Madeleine Wickham’s pseudonym), I felt like I’ve found my long lost soul sister in the protagonist Rebecca Bloomwood, fondly called Becky.

Becky is a young and sassy woman with her own set of quirks, but the remarkable thing about her is that she’s a compulsive shopper. Her troubles arise because of her excessive shopping and to forget those troubles, she does some more shopping. It’s a vicious circle that she can’t get out of.

Sophie Kinsella has written five books in the series so far which revolve around Becky and her shopping antics. The Confessions of a Shopaholic, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, Shopaholic Ties the Knot, Shopaholic and Sister and Shopaholic and Baby. Every single book is as delightful as the preceding one without being redundant or insipid. Actually, you can’t have a dull moment around Becky at all.

The books follow her journey as she starts as a financial journalist and goes on to become a personal shopper, struggles with debt, meets Luke Brandon, realizes he’s the love of her life, gets married, discovers she has a sister, and becomes a mother. Not once does Becky lose her spunk or her vivid imagination, which invariably leads to a lot of problems. But with the help of her unique ideas, sometimes downright ridiculous and unbelievable excuses, combined with some strange stroke of luck, she manages to get out of them every single time.

In every book, she goes overboard shopping, whether it’s for herself or her wedding or her baby. But this is also the most fun part about the books. Sophie Kinsella knows fashion all too well. Whether it’s shopping for the baby or wedding, or even furniture, every book is perfectly researched and each of Becky’s shopping sprees are very elaborately described. Reading the book, sometimes you might get an irrational but irresistible urge to go shopping, just because you’ve been reading about all the gorgeous dresses or bags or shoes or even stationery!

Every character in the book, from Becky’s best friend Suze, to her mother Jane or the mother’s neighbor Janice, is delightful and endearing. They’re all a bit weird, but Becky loves them all the same. And so will you. Becky will amaze you, make you laugh and sometimes think of her as extremely stupid. But she’s a charming character and Kinsella makes sure that you start thinking like her after a while!

The first Shopaholic movie, titled Confessions of a Shopaholic, was released in February 2009.  Isla Fisher played Becky, and even though it’d be almost impossible to portray this character with perfection, the actress did a decent job. The story was altered a bit, as is the case with all movie adaptations of books, but it was worth a watch. However it didn’t come even close to what the books are. They’re simply a delight to read.

Sophie Kinsella is one of the most prominent chick-lit authors and Becky Bloomwood is an unforgettable character. Other books by Kinsella, like Remember Me or Can You Keep A Secret are not as fresh or interesting, but The Undomestic Goddess is certainly a good read.

If you love shopping and reading, then The Shopaholic series is meant for you. The author plans to come up with another book in the series in September 2010, so hold your breath till then and grab a copy as soon as you can. Meanwhile you can always go shopping!

Kashika Saxena

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