Confessions of a Shopaholic
Confessions of a Shopaholic is another Brit Chick Lit book with yet another heroine who is the author of most of her own problems. But unlike the addict heroine in Marian Keyes’s Rachel’s Holiday, the heroine of this book is not nearly so likable, nor does she make as much progress.
Rebecca Bloomwood has a fairly satisfying life. She has a steady, if dull, job as a journalist for Successful Savings magazine. She lives with her good friend Suze in a very nice flat, and she has lots of nice things. There is only one small problem. Rebecca is addicted to shopping, and she’s beginning to feel the results of her expensive habit. Her bank is calling and writing increasingly more threatening letters. Her credit cards are extended. She owes her friends money. But she just can’t stop spending because she loves things and she loves the rush she gets from buying them. Will either of her strategies to Cut Back or Make More Money help her to curb her shopaholic tendencies?
On the plus side, this book is written in a chatty, easy-to-read style. It moves along and captures the reader’s interest, and at first I was caught up in Rebecca’s story. She was quite charming and engaging – when she wasn’t totally self-involved and delusional. But as the story continued and it became clear that she was losing control and successfully rationalizing away all of her irresponsible behavior, I began to get a sickening, sinking feeling.
Ultimately, Rebecca isn’t very likable. She’s rather funny, and some of her adventures proved to be amusing, but essentially she’s an addict, and addicts in the throes of their addictions aren’t the nicest people. She lies, she sneaks around, and she flakes off at her job. She absolutely refuses to acknowledge that she has a duty to pay for all the stuff she bought. She rationalizes every single action she takes as being necessary to her own happiness. She is no one I’d like to be friends with. Perhaps this is in part due to my own upbringing. I come from a long line of frugal Scots and Dutchmen and can’t really relate Rebecca’s lifestyle or her habits. Rebecca is not trustworthy, and doesn’t become more so throughout the story. At the end she is still rationalizing, still evading, and still spending. And she gets away with it.
There is a small romantic sub-plot that adds little to the story. Luke Brandon is a rich entrepreneur who finds Rebecca amusing and fascinating, and he gets to know her better over the course of the book. But since the story is told in the first person (Rebecca’s) point of view, it’s difficult to understand just why he’s attracted to her. As a result, this sub-plot wasn’t successful.
Confessions of a Shopaholic isn’t a burden to read, but neither is it fully satisfying. Perhaps if Rebecca hadn’t spent the bulk of the book being a total flake or if she had made inroads into solving her own problems, I would have liked it better. As it is, I’d recommend it only to avid fans of Brit Chick Lit or possibly to serious shoppers.