Star-spangled shopper

Sophie Kinsella is back with the seventh of her Shopaholic series - Shopaholic to the Stars. This time, the leading lady trips all over the red carpet on Hollywood Boulevard.

By Mary Paulose

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Published: Fri 17 Jul 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 17 Jul 2015, 2:00 AM

Confession time. I haven't read any of the books from the immensely popular Shopaholic series before. But I was always up to speed on them: Sophie Kinsella's catchy, quirky and fun books about the loveable airhead protagonist Becky Bloomwood (a former "financial journalist") had enough takers among the girls in office when it came to reviews. This time, however, I got the chance with Shopaholic to the Stars.
That doesn't mean the chick-lit novel isn't enjoyable or a breezy read - it is quite. I've always considered myself a "serious" reader (Grishams and Pattersons notwithstanding). But it's nice to delve into something that only requires you to concentrate very little, kick back your heels, and just have a good laugh.
Becky is now Becky Brandon, post-marriage to the oh-so-solid Luke Brandon, who probably causes huge bouts of immeidate envy in most female readers (where are the real-life, strong, stoic, supportive and forgiving men?!). This time, Becky lands up in the ultimate glamour town - Los Angeles - courtesy Luke's new stint, managing A-list movie stars. Naturally, the bright and enterprising heroine has a new business idea: she'll use her sartorial skills to become a stylist to the stars. Only, no one really wants to employ her - or her talents - because she's an unknown entity in Hollywood. yet. Nevertheless, that doesn't deter our spendthrift lass from dropping her (or Luke's) credit cards on some big designer duds, in order to style her non-existent "clients".
Meanwhile, she gets into the thick of LA life with an insane amount of shopping on Rodeo Drive, enro-lling her toddler daughter at the local posh nursery and even joining Golden Peace, (an also posh) wellness retreat to cure her uncontrollable shopping addiction. In a series of chuckle-worthy incidents, she gives in to her buying craze, tries to be a true-blue LA resident, strives relentlessly to land celebrity clients, and also runs into her arch rival and old nemesis Alicia, who's surprisingly carved a new identity for herself in sunshine land.
Soon, a series of fantastic events unfold where two big-name actresses are publicly pitted against each other, with Becky (naturally) not just in the centre of the storm, but indirectly causing it too. But now, suddenly, Becky has all the limelight - plus paparazzi - she craved, and it's up to her whether to capitalise on her new-found fame to carve a career as top-notch stylist for the stars. even if it means taking a leaf out of the Kardashians' book and script her life. Even if it means alienating her best friend Suze and neglecting her father - both of who join Becky in LA and go through their own personal crises. Even as she has to juggle major drama between Luke and his estranged mother. But down the line, Becky learns, in true "reality era" style, that nothing in Hollywood is absolutely what it seems.
Becky does come across as a largely selfish, narcissistic, psycho of sorts, but c'mon, this is chick-lit, and it's Becky after all - both not to be taken seriously - but you do get the feeling that the author is stretching the series thin in order to keep publishing. Plus, the book abruptly ends with unresolved issues, to be carried on to the next novel, so that's a sure sign.
I'll admit that having no previous knowledge of Becky's personality, motivations or DNA (plus those of the other characters) probably cut into the entertainment quotient while I was reading Shopaholic to the Stars, but that can only be sorted out in one way - reading up the rest of the Shopaholic series! Kinsella may well have a new follower. here I come.
marypaulose@khaleejtimes.com

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Sophie Kinsella is back with the seventh of her Shopaholic series — Shopaholic to the Stars.
Sophie Kinsella is back with the seventh of her Shopaholic series — Shopaholic to the Stars.


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