“Confessions of a Shopaholic” by Sophie Kinsella

“Confessions of a Shopaholic” is a delicious treat, just like the gorgeous things that its heroine Becky Bloomwood obsesses about. Becky is a 20-something Londoner who’s fallen into financial journalism more or less by accident, but–oh, the irony!–she herself is a financial disaster. Even as she’s giving financial advice to others, she herself is constantly overdrawn but can’t stop spending, and deals with the problem by throwing away her bills and lying to her bank and her friends. Meanwhile, handsome businessman Luke Brandon seems to be attracted to her–or is he?

This could have been nothing more than an amalgam of annoying cliches, but Kinsella’s deft touch makes it both a glittering confection and a surprisingly tense thriller. The juxtaposition of Becky’s more-or-less stream-of-consciousness narration and the correspondence her bank sends her allows the reader to ride along with Becky’s thoughts while also being aware of how things are “on the outside,” creating narrative irony while also serving as an example par excellence of “show, don’t tell.” As Becky’s life spirals out of control, we are given a nuanced and sympathetic picture of addiction, wrapped up in a sparkly package.

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