Shopaholic Ties the Knot
Becky Bloomwood is a transplanted Englishwoman now living in Manhattan and working as a personal shopper. At the wedding of her best friend Suze, Becky’s boyfriend Luke Brandon proposes. All that remains is to plan the details of the wedding. Can Becky somehow manage to plan a successful wedding, as millions of other women have managed to do, or will she completely and totally screw it up?
While Becky is trying to figure out what she should do about her wedding, Luke is having troubles of his own. His birth mother, who left for America when he was very small, is now very involved in his life. But has she discovered her tender maternal side, or is she simply using him? This secondary plot involving Luke’s problems with his mother is actually more compelling and touching than the main plotline, but it’s hard to care too much about Luke since we see nothing from his point of view. In fact, we don’t see events from any point of view except Becky’s, and she’s so relentlessly self-indulgent and juvenile that her point of view becomes quite annoying after a while. When her best friend exclaims irritably, “God, you’re a selfish cow sometimes,” I found myself in total agreement.
Becky is lacking in backbone. In fact, she is an ideal candidate for a spine implant, since she clearly doesn’t have one. She tries, rather pitifully, to conceal her shopping addiction from her boyfriend, rather than simply coming out and saying, “This is who I am. Deal with it.” When Luke’s mother begins planning a large and spectacular wedding, Becky is starstruck, but she can’t quite bring herself to let her Mum know she won’t be getting married in England after all. So she lets planning for both weddings go forward rather than display the slightest bit of character and ability to say no. Her best friend says, “Promise me you’re not just going to bury your head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening,” but that’s precisely what Becky does. The biggest problem with this novel is that all the conflict in this book could have been resolved in the first fifty pages if Becky had shown the slightest hint of decisiveness.
In fact, it’s not just the wedding Becky can’t make up her mind about, it’s everything. After she lists what she wants in a wedding dress, the owner of the dress shop says with justifiable irritation, “So we’re after something either simple or elaborate, with sleeves or strapless, possibly with beading and/or embroidery and either with a train or without.” After trying on 35 dresses, Becky thinks she’s found the dress she wants, but is immediately sidetracked by yet another one. She explains to the exasperated shopkeeper: “It’s the dress of some of my dreams. I have a lot of dreams.”
While Becky is a very amusing character, she’s not genuinely likable because, entirely aside from her wishy-washiness, she is, to put it bluntly, a liar. She attempts to hide the extent of her expenses from her boyfriend by “accidentally” spilling liquid paper over their joint bank account statement, and when he scrapes it off and is annoyed by her expenditures, she argues with great passion and conviction that of course a skirt should be considered a household expense. She doesn’t come clean with her Mum, despite repeated opportunities to do so, even though her mother is putting heart and soul into creating her English wedding. Becky doesn’t seem to grow and develop as a character; she keeps having revelations about what she ought to do, but then she never follows through with them. This happens several times, and eventually it became rather annoying. Even the final resolution to the problem is somewhat unsatisfying. Bear in mind that this is my first Shopaholic book and if I’d had to put up with the childish and immature Becky through all three books, I’m pretty sure I would have flung them all on the floor and commenced to flamenco.
This book is not only written in first person, it’s also written in the present tense, which makes it read a bit oddly. Once the reader gets used to this, however, it does flow very nicely. Most of the characters seem to originally be from the earlier books, Confessions of a Shopaholic and Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, but this didn’t bother me, even though I haven’t read the previous two books. The characters didn’t just drop in for a visit, they formed an integral part of the plot, so it wasn’t hard to keep them straight. But while this was a successful standalone book, it didn’t fill me with a desire to immediately buy or even check out of the library the other two in the series.
Shopaholic Ties the Knot is undeniably humorous, but ultimately disappointing. What’s funniest about the book are the various documents and letters between the chapters. But honestly, the entire book is funny, and I found myself laughing out loud quite a few times. Kinsella has a real flair for comedy, but I wish she’d use her talent to create a character who could be funny without being quite so annoyingly pitiful.