Anxiety & Panic

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Confessions of a ShopaholicReview - Confessions of a Shopaholic
A Novel
by Sophie Kinsella
Delta, 2001
Review by CP
Jul 31st 2001 (Volume 5, Issue 31)

This cheerful book starts out with its heroine Becky Bloomwood using shopping as a crutch, dealing with her emotions by obsessing with clothes and other products, and getting a high by getting bargains. Of course, she is getting heavily into debt, and is telling lies to her family, friends, and bank manager about the trouble she is getting herself into. Her lies and debt make her more anxious, and the only way she can think of to deal with the anxiety is to go shopping. This just makes her problems worse, until she reaches a crisis.

Rather than make the story one of pain and ruin, however, Sophie Kinsella turns it into an upbeat comedy full of misunderstandings and discoveries of unrecognized abilities. Becky is helped by her roommate, has two dates with doting multimillionaires in a month, and turns her career around from a mediocre financial journalist to a successful media figure. It's a fairy tale ending that left me feeling that I too could become rich and famous if only I had a lucky break.

The story is set in London in the world of finance, although there's little in the plot to make it inaccessible to readers from other countries. It might help to know something about the world of retail fashion, but I hardly know anything about it, and my ignorance didn't seem to get in the way of my understanding what was going on. Kinsella is a competent writer, and the book is a very quick read. There's no great prose here, and there's not a great deal for people-who-shop-too-much to learn here, except that they should confront their problems rather than avoid them. It's good to have a book that makes plain the way that consumer capitalism tends to encourage reliance on credit cards and materialism, although in many ways the book also celebrates the pleasure of buying and finding a bargain.

So if you are looking for a lighthearted look at the dangers of consumerism amid the chaos of single life for women in their mid-twenties, this is the book for you. Other readers might also find it entertaining.


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