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Fiction

Sophie Kinsella : Mini Shopaholic

“You must eat your vegetables before you get any meat!” I told my sons. The truth is behind their backs I am bingeing on junk food.

Most days I try to eat a nutritious meal, but I do reach for my chocolates or Walker’s potato crisps. It applies to my reading too. As the years crept to its last leg and holiday season is almost here, I do feel the need to wind down and read something that I could get past a day or two. Mini-shopaholic serves the purpose.

I like what Steph said about Chick lit in one of her comments…

I see them (chick lits) like eating a bowl of popcorn – enjoyable in the moment, not full of much sustenance for afterwards, but ok every once in a while!

How true!

Now in this instalment, Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) thought motherhood would be a breeze and that having a daughter was a dream come true – a shopping friend for life! But it’s trickier than she thought, two-year-old Minnie has a quite different approach to shopping. On top of everything else, there s a big financial crisis. People are having to Cut Back including all of Becky’s personal shopping clients and she and Luke are still living with Becky’s Mum and Dad. To cheer everyone up, Becky decides to throw a surprise birthday party on a budget, but then things become really complicated. Who will end up on the naughty step, who will get a gold star and will Becky’s secret wishes come true?

The funny thing is when you read most of the reviews of this book, it sounded something that came out of my own mouth:

“I don’t usually read Chick lit, but I just love the shopaholic series (or Sophie Kinsella)!”

I haven’t read all of the books in the shopaholic series, only the first two. I like Twenties Girl a lot more, and Kinsella’s stand-alone books are heralded to be better than the series. If this is true, this does says a lot about the lure of Kinsella!

What appeals to me most in this book is that it is written in the British world of shopping context. So there is the economic crisis, everyone hankers after Bank of England to get their money back. The mention of the Nestle’s Quality Street Sweets, Harvey Nicks (short for Harvey Nichols), John Lewis, having lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s, the German Christmas markets, the expression of “Things have gone pear-shaped”, “pottering about” and “Cheers” at the end of a telephone conversation etc, endears to all who lives in the British Isle. Becky’s misadventures are depicted in her usual exaggeration and humour, things are blown out of proportion, everything goes wrong, but everything comes out right at the end. The truth is milder than the story though, the patient and nice shop managers in London will surely not ban your child from Santa’s grottos even if your child tore down the reindeers and the sleigh! Kinsella made them out to be more vicious than they actually are. 😉

What Kinsella did not exaggerate was how good the Pound shops are in the UK. Everything in the shops are priced at one Pound Sterling (some call it 99p shop). You can get chocolates bourbons, Toblerones, make-up application kit, solar garden lights, hair extensions, wigs, Tupperware, 3 wooden hangers for £1 etc.. and in my case 4 stainless steel spoons for £1. I just laughed when I read this part of the novel, I relate to Becky’s excitement as mine as I stumbled upon a good steal, the simple joy of an austere shopper. It is all very exciting. 😉

The main issue in Becky’s life right now is not about disciplining Minnie (Becky’s daughter) to become less of a shopaholic, contrary to what the book title alludes to, the main problem this time is how to organise a surprise party for Luke and stop people from spilling the beans. We know how hard it is to keep everything under the lid for such thing, so imagine the pressure Becky goes through when millions of Luke’s business associates and friends knew about Luke’s birthday and start publicising their well wishes through popular channels like youtube, facebook, emails, texts messages etc.?!! Kinsella do have a talent to string along many little stories into one big one, for example Jess and Tom’s engagement, Minnie has a discplinary problem and a Supernanny sort of TV personality had paid them a visit, if they are found to have a problem they will be sent to bootcamp, Becky pulls in Luke’s PA, Bonnie’s, to help in her wild surprise party scheme, Becky’s eccentric parents are on Becky’s back on her house hunting expeditions, and in between you get letters from the government or doctors thanking Becky for her wild but unworkable ideas. It is all just stupid, foolish, deceitful, bimbo-sort of acts and…………….. I like it!

It takes a lot to make me laugh on novel, I wouldn’t say Kinsella’s novel is a laugh a minute type of read, but I do burst out laughing when I read this:

‘We’re all trying to think of ways to save money,’ I (Becky) explain, hoping Luke might say, ‘What a ludicrous idea, everything’s on the up, let’s crack open some champagne.’

But he just nods thoughtfully. ‘ That’s not a bad idea, the way things are going.’

‘But how are things going?’ Mum demands shrilly. ‘Luke, you know. Is the Daily World right or wrong? Because I heard a chap on the radio and he said there would be a domino effect. And we’re the dominoes!’

‘No, we’re not.’ Dad raises his eyes to heaven. ‘The banks are the dominoes.’

‘Well, what are we, then? Mum glares at him. ‘The dice?’

Compare to her earlier novels, Kinsella recent novels introduce an element of Hollywood style heart warming episode about familial ties and the importance of unconditional love. In this case, Luke’s estranged mother, Elinor, evil and manipulative before, now has a heart.

So for my occasional dose of comfort food, I am going to pick up Kinsella’s stand-alone novels, starting with Undomesticated Goddess, and I am going to repeat like a broken record, “I don’t normally read this genre, but I do like Sophie Kinsella’s novels”. 😉

Other views:

Wilfrid Wong
Book Whisperer
Wondrous Read
The Gloss Goss
Book Chick City

Hardback. Publisher: Bantam Press, 2010.  Length: 395 pages, Setting: Britain. Source: Library Loot. Finished reading at 24 November 2010.

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About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.

Discussion

14 thoughts on “Sophie Kinsella : Mini Shopaholic

  1. Me too! I don’t read click-lit, but Sophie Kinsella is special. I laugh a lot reading her book. Impossible to read in public because people would stare at me (not sure if it is common in UK that readers laugh out loud in public and that is OK?).

    I love the Shopaholic series. I love her standalone books too. In fact, I read them all. What I can’t quite get is her writing in her real name. I tried to read one but gave up after the first few pages. Somehow, that magic of the Becky-and-what-not-fantasy is lost.

    Posted by Wilfrid | December 1, 2010, 12:01 am
  2. Sometimes I will actually eat popcorn for dinner, so you know I love it, but I really don’t read much chick lit these days… That said, this is one of those series I’ve read most of (I stopped after Shopaholic and Sister) because there is something about Kinsella that is just so plain fun to read. Her books always seem to hook you in right away…

    And I agree that Brit Chick Lit is my favorite kind just because I do love the jargon/slang as well as all the references that make me feel just a bit less bad about reading something trashy… 😉

    Posted by Steph | December 1, 2010, 2:05 am
    • Steph, LOL.. ha ha I really smile (can’t do much laughing in front of the PC in the office!) glad you think Brit Chick Lit are not trashy, but Kinsella did it in such a Hollywoodish action packed and slapstick way, that it really is not a true reflection of the Brit society. People here are calm, cool and dead pan; only on rare occasions when they need to let go, you’ll see Brit loosening up at social occasions… 😉

      Posted by JoV | December 1, 2010, 8:58 am
  3. It is fun to do some light reading once and a while to relax our brains-

    Posted by Mel u | December 1, 2010, 3:31 am
  4. I don’t read chick-lit either, but your review is nudging me to pick up Kinsella. I have seen this series in my library, but never picked it up. I might give it a try.

    Posted by Anamika | December 1, 2010, 4:24 am
  5. I agree with the popcorn and the chick lit and the endearingness (sorry, not actually a word, I don’t believe) of British Isle slang!

    Posted by rhapsodyinbooks | December 1, 2010, 4:38 am
    • Jill, it is endearing. It still is. No one speaks English like English. Say Draw-er and Draw-wer (for the word drawers) differently, and you will get stared at for the wrong reasons. 😉

      Posted by JoV | December 1, 2010, 9:06 am
  6. Ah, I’ve only read one book from the Shopaholic series and found that rather entertaining. However, the first Kinsella book I read wasn’t from the series… it was Can You Keep a Secret and it was that book that piqued my interest in Kinsella. It’s a really fun read. Recommended for those days where you just don’t want to get absorbed into a dark, heavy plot 🙂

    Posted by Joanna | December 1, 2010, 5:02 am
    • OOoooo..Joanna… I do want to get absorbed into a dark, heavy plot :), I haven’t read enough of those stuff, maybe soon! I however found Kinsella’s earlier books less entertaining, I have a bad sense of humour while reading, I don’t usually burst out laughing at everything that was meant to be funny; especially when it’s too silly I can’t even laugh about it. 😦 But Kinsella’s recent books actually put a smile on my face, and her plots are now more complex and refined, so I would say it is good.

      Posted by JoV | December 1, 2010, 9:10 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella « JoV's Book Pyramid - March 16, 2012

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Mockingjay
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City


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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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