26/02/2016

Shopaholic to the Rescue (by Sophie Kinsella)

Sophie Kinsella is a talented writer, one whose work I avoided for some years before realising just what fun her style of ‘chick-lit’ can be. It’s a testament to her storytelling and characterisation that I’ve followed the entire ‘Shopaholic’ series with great enjoyment (on the whole) despite the heroine - Becky Brandon, née Bloomwood - being my complete antithesis.

I bought ‘Shopaholic to the Rescue’ - inexpensively, but in hardback - after finishing the eighth in the series, ‘Shopaholic to the Stars’, which ended on something of a cliff-hanger. Becky’s father and her best friend’s husband had disappeared, so she and a group of other people were determined to find them. And there the book ended.

This one starts with some correspondence between Becky and her former bank manager. It’s cleverly done to summarise the key points of the previous novel, for those who have forgotten (or, indeed, who have not read it) without being annoying to those who only recently finished it. This correspondence continues in snatches through the book, forming one of the many enjoyable sidelines.

Most of the book is about the search for Becky’s father: travelling around the US, meeting some of his old friends, trying to piece together the mystery of his disappearance. Becky’s mother, who is one of the search party, is hurt and upset that he didn’t confide in her. Becky’s best friend Suze is being cold and distant, while spending a lot of time with someone Becky has always found snide and selfish. And Becky herself finds that she doesn’t even enjoy shopping any more…

Silly? Of course it is. Far-fetched? Undoubtedly. And yet, it’s very readable, so much so that I could barely put it down at times. Becky’s fluffy and impetuous, but she’s also extremely kind-hearted and can be highly competent in unexpected ways.. Her husband Luke is a wealthy businessman, but adores his family; he is loyal and caring to his friends.

There are quite a few people in this volume, and it helps to have read the earlier ones (particularly ‘..to the Stars’) but they’re reasonably easy to tell apart. The author has kept the characters interesting - if caricatured, in some cases - and I like the way Becky has matured as the series progresses.

Lots of threads are tied up in this book. Relationships are healed, mysteries are unravelled, questions are answered, and the future looks hopeful for all concerned. It feels like a concluding book to the entire series; I don’t know if that’s the case, but if so it works well.

If you prefer more serious novels, this probably isn’t for you; but for those who like light-hearted stories with good writing and likeable people, I’d recommend this series, and this book in particular as a finale. Great for holiday reading.

Only currently available in hardback and on Kindle, but soon to be published in paperback too.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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