I pre-ordered the latest instalment of the Shopaholic series a few months ago, but it has been sitting in my ‘to read’ list for a while; the book received some terrible reviews, so I was a bit apprehensive about readng it.
If you haven’t read any of the Shopaholic books (spoilers!) the main character Becky Brandon nee Bloomwood is a financial journalist who has quite a lot of debt, but can’t quite stop herself from spending money on clothes shoes, makeup…anything really. Becky consistently gets herself into ridiculous situations, but always manages to find her way out of trouble and save the day (or someone bails her out of trouble) – the series could be more aptly named ‘The Misadventures of Becky Bloomwood. Over the series Becky married Luke Brandon, owner of a PR company and had a baby girl called Minnie. When experiencing problems with their troublesome toddler daughter in “Mini Shopaholic”, Luke brought in a child behavioural expert who said that Minnie was behaving quite normally for her age, but that she was very concerned that Becky may have a shopping addiction, however this was never treated seriously by Becky and Luke.
Throughout the series Becky had shown herself to be impulsive, selfish, sometimes delusional and often gets carried away with schemes of fame & glory; despite being a grown woman, she would love to be known as “The Girl with the…(insert the latest trend – Angel Bag, the amazing up dos, Lara Bohinc bag- the list is endless). In every book of the series Becky has some crazy scheme that will ultimately put her relationships with her friends and family in jeopardy.
In “Shopaholic to the Stars” Becky and Luke have temporarily moved to L.A. whilst Luke works with movie star Sage Seymour and trials PR in Hollywood. Toddler Minnie comes along with them and gets into a top pre-school with the help of Alicia Billington, Becky’s arch-nemesis, who claims to have changed and says she just wants to put the past behind them.
Becky’s best friend Suze comes over for a visit with her husband and children, and Becky’s dad asks her to look up one of his old friends from a trip to the U.S. he took in the 70s; Becky’s mum is convinced that something is wrong with her husband, and Suze is convince that a wellness centre Becky introduced her to is secretly a brainwashing cult, attempting to manipulate her husband Tarkie to get access to all of his money (Suze is Lady Susan Cleath-Stewart, a member of the aristocracy and terribly wealthy). Becky as usual is oblivious to everything happening to the people around her, and wanders around in her own little bubble, releshing in the chance to make it as a “stylist to the stars” in Hollywood.
This novel more or less follows the usual formulaic plot that we are used to with Shopaholic books; Becky sets her sights on something inappropriate, her friends and family try to make her see sense, she refuses, they all start to drift apart, Beck gets remorseful and sees that the thing she wanted wasn’t what she thought it was, everyone make friends again. A lot of reviewers said that they didn’t recognise the Becky in this book, that she was thoughtless & selfish, materialistic & headstrong, and I thought – this is Becky to a tee! I still believe that, even after reading the book; Becky is very loveable and means well, but she is very self-centred and stubborn, and doesn’t like obstacles to get between her and her latest “lifelong dream”.
In this case though, as a modern woman, in some aspects I have to take Becky’s side; her latest “selfish” act is putting her career ahead of her family, and Luke is really unhappy that she is going to extremes, to get a career in Hollywood. Luke says that they should discuss things as a family, but to be fair, he decided to uproot the family and move them from one country to another to follow his career; and when a better opportunity crops up in London, he assumes the family will just move back to the UK. He became quite a martyr about it when Becky (quite rightly) said that she is now in the middle of building a career in L.A., and doesn’t want to go back to England, saying that if she wants to stay in the US fine, but he is moving back to London, so they will have to figure something out. This part of the book had me gritting my teeth with annoyance. Yes Becky always finds the extreme way to go about something, and can be a bit ahead of herself (for instance buying thousands of dollars worth of clothing for an actress she isn’t officialy styling yet), but she also has a valid point. Luke has moved the whole family across the world to try out a new career path, and when Becky tries to start up a career over there he is not happy about it; of course some of the career opportunities are unsuitable – such as the plastic surgery reality show that her agent wants her to star in- but Becky knows this and would never take part in something like that, the fact that Luke and her friends think the worst of her when they hear about this made me quite cross.
Overall I enjoyed the book, the classic Becky Bloomwood comedic situations were very amusing, the ridiculous things had me cringing, and I really felt for her when her friends and family started to shut her out; I really did not like the ending, because in my opinion there wasn’t one. I felt that a couple of the plot points in the novel were resolved, but the main issues were left unresolved and the book just ended with an announcement that Beck would be back soon; the whole book was the opening act of a two part show. I like closure.
If you like the Shopaholic series but feel Becky is becoming too selfish, or just would like to read more books like them, I would suggest the Annie Valentine Personal Shopper series by Carmen Reid; Annie has spending issues, loves fashion, but as a widowed single mum is a lot kinder and nowhere near as selfish as Becky Bloomwood.
*I am not affiliated with the publishers or Amazon – I have included this link purely to be helpful. 😊