So, I’m totally in love with the Shopaholic series, but this book was the one I had the most difficulty relating to. I’m still giving it five stars because I think it was really well-done, but the conflict in this one was difficult for me to deal with–almost TOO scary! I’d like to say that nothing like that would ever happen to me, just like I’d like to say that I’d never get into debt and throw away my bills without reading them, but…it’s like reading about all my worst fears! I don’t want to say any more and spoil the plot, so you, dear reader, will have to read it yourself to find out just what was so nail-biting.
Which is one of the achievements of this series. It seems so lighthearted and glittery, and it is, but it uses its surface glitter to tap into deep-seated fears and problems. How do you deal with the fact that you have recurring patterns of behavior that you can’t seem to control and that repeatedly cause problems for you and the people you love? How do you deal with the conflicting demands of your family, your in-laws, and your own desires? How do you stop things that you’ve innocently set into motion out of a desire not to make things bad, but that are now threatening to blow up in your face? Becky Bloomwood is peculiarly like a figure out of classical or Shakespearean tragedy (snobs, stop your howls of outrage!), caught up in the inevitability of her fate and her character, it’s just that her problems come wrapped up in Vera Wang wedding dresses. Technically there’s so much to love here, despite a certain repetition that keeps repeating itself (haha!) as the series goes on, and scholars of literary technique would do well to study the apparent lighthearted effortless that Kinsella imbues her plot with, even as she draws subtly on tricks from detective and horror fiction in order to keep the tension ramped up to high.