Shopaholic to the Stars (by Sophie Kinsella)

It took me a long time to start reading Sophie Kinsella’s books, but once I’d started, I wanted to collect them all. Her genre is unashamedly ‘chick-lit’, her characters often materialistic and caricatured… and yet she writes so well, with delicious irony and the people inevitably get under my skin.

I wasn’t going to read any more of the ‘Shopaholic’ series, but then couldn’t resist picking up ‘Shopaholic to the Stars’ when I found it inexpensively second-hand. I thought it would make a good, light read for winter evenings, so started it just a few days ago. I found that as well as reading a few chapters at bedtime, I wanted to pick it up during the daytime to find out what was going to happen, and so finished it much more quickly than I had expected.

In this, the seventh in the series, Becky and her husband Luke are in Hollywood. They go on a brief visit at first, and we meet Becky in a fashionable sports shop trying on something that’s far too small for her, which she ends up buying. We quickly learn that she’s about to run in a charity race with a famous star, even though she’s done no training and has little idea what to expect. Then she spots a shop-lifter…

It’s all action, and Becky seems naively star-struck at first, determined to make friends with famous people, walk on red carpets and make a name for herself. However, when the opportunity comes up, she realises that the price of fame may be rather too steep, and she has to decide how much her friends and family matter to her.

As with the other books, there are places where I smiled, particularly when she takes classes to help her become centred. There are also places where I felt frustrated at Becky’s over-the-top addiction to shopping and inability to do things in moderation. But her character is what makes the books so readable; they’re all told in the first person, so we are only given her viewpoint, and it’s a testament to the writing that we see so much further than Becky’s specific focus.

What I like is that Becky is a kind and caring person at heart. She’s naive, and materialistic, and spends far too much time and money on her appearance - but she cares about people, and expects the best of them.

The book gives a good picture of life in Hollywood - I assume the author has some experience, as the first book in the series was made into a film - and there’s a surprisingly serious message about the shallowness of the movie industry, the selfishness and likes that are necessary to become famous.

What I didn’t like so much is that the novel finishes without a conclusion, leaving Becky on a quest, and several threads entirely unresolved. That meant I had to go to my current favourite online bookshop and find a second-hand edition of the sequel…

Recommended if you’ve enjoyed others in the Shopaholic series, but not if you prefer your heroines to be rather less shallow in outlook.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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