Shopaholic Abroad (by Sophie Kinsella)

I admit, I was unfairly biased against 'chick-lit'. Partly, perhaps, because of such a dreadful name for the genre. Partly because my negative stereotyped idea was of superficial books filled with shopping, swearing and sex. Partly because I read a 'chick-lit' novel some years ago which was trite and had a rather disturbing ending. And since Sophie Kinsella appeared to be the name most associated with the chick-lit genre, it took me a long time to start reading any of her books.

I'm so glad I overcame my prejudice. Sophie Kinsella is an intelligent writer with a great sense of humour. And while her books - particularly the Shopaholic series - are undoubtedly concerned with shopping, there's nothing explicit about any of her bedroom scenes (which are few and far between anyway) and the bad language is only in conversation, in extreme situations.

'Shopaholic Abroad' (published in the USA as 'Shopaholic takes Manhattan') is second in the 'shopaholic' series which started with 'The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic'. Becky Bloomwood, heroine and narrator, is a wonderful creation. Despite being appalling with money and constantly in debt, she is friendly, kind and extremely generous. It's just a tad ironic that she's the financial advisor on a TV show.

Becky is in love with Luke, a wealthy businessman. In this book, Luke has the opportunity to go to New York, and (as one might gather from the title) Becky goes too. Unaware at first of the worth of US dollars, she goes rather crazy in some of the shops when she's supposed to be at the gym or visiting art galleries.

The pace is terrific, the style very enjoyable, and - unusually for me - there were two or three places where I almost laughed out loud. I love the letters that appear, from time to time, in these books - usually from increasingly annoyed bank managers.

Definitely recommended to anyone who likes light women's fiction. 'Shopaholic Abroad' stands alone so there's no need to have read anything else in the series.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 8th December 2010

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