I’ve been reading the Shopaholic series for a long, long time. It’s been about a decade since I picked up one of the books, and at one point, I owned the whole series but the first book.
As I’ve gotten older, my love for the series has greatly diminished as my sense of financial awareness grew. Though the books are fun and often attempt to teach the main character to be better about her spending habits, I became progressively more stressed by how she threw money away.
Reading this book was meant to close out the series for me. I wanted to see how the end of Becky Bloomwood’s storyline would change the way she treated money. And I was curious about the supposed cult in the story. So I told myself to get through this book and donate it once I was done.
I thought this was the last book in the series, but apparently there’s more. I feel no need to continue with it because this feels like a good stopping point. And honestly, if I read any more about Becky’s spending habits, I might throw something.
Title: Shopaholic to the Rescue
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Pub Date: October 27, 2015
Book 4 of 2022
Reading Time: 3 hours & 25 minutes
Date Finished: January 31, 2022
Content Warnings: Lying, martial infidelity, miscommunication, lack of financial responsibility, mentions of gambling, gambling, discussions of addictive personality disorders, bullying, mentions of drugs
What Worked For Me: Roadtrip adventure
What Didn’t Work For Me: Unnecessary dramatic conflict, miscommunication, character immaturity
This book picks up after Shopaholic to the Stars, which I think I read sometime during the early stages of the pandemic? Drama happens, spouses take a sudden trip, everyone is worried that a cult kidnapping might have taken place.
The main plot point is that Becky’s dad and her best friend’s husband have mysteriously gone to fulfill a secret quest of some kind. Convinced that this is linked to a cult, Becky and the rest of the group - her husband and daughter, her best friend, her mom, her mom’s best friend, and her lifelong enemy - take a roadtrip to find the men and figure out what’s really going on.
Early into reading this, I questioned if I was making the right decision. Having grown up with deep-rooted fears around spending money frivolously, reading a book about someone with zero self-control is a very stressful thing. Even more so when this person is a fully grown adult with a child and little ability to hold down a job.
If it were a one-time thing and Becky learned her lesson, I think I would be more okay with reading these books again. But it repeats in each book. She spends way too much, does something that justifies or rectifies it, promises to be better, and spends way too much again in the next book.
Much of the logic around this is that she grew up not having a lot and wanting what she couldn’t have. But her parents have obliged a lot of her wants and needs, to the point where she used to get everything she wanted without really getting in trouble with them. It wasn’t until she met her eventual husband, Luke, that she truly saw someone get angry with her spending habits.
And I think that’s where I struggle with the Shopaholic series. There’s no real reason for her to spend other than never learning real self-control and always being able to justify why she buys something. Passing that to her daughter was a real issue too.
But that’s more to do with the overall series than this book specifically.
Like any book in the Shopaholic series, this one is filled with all the characters being overly dramatic for little to no reason. Maybe it’s me growing up to realize this or not knowing that I was aware of this when I was younger, but Luke is the only level-headed person in these books.
I pity and respect the man for what he puts up with. Married to a woman who is constantly on the verge of bankrupting herself and having a mother-in-law who bursts into hysterics at a moment’s notice. His daughter is becoming like his wife, and his wife’s best friend Suze has commitment issues to all her hobbies and short-lived aspirations. Luke Brandon is a hero, as far as I’m concerned.
He’s the reason I got through this book and he barely appears to do more than drive, attend meetings, and calm everyone down. I don’t know what I would have done without him.
Dramatic characters aren’t always a bad thing in books. There are a lot of stories that benefit from someone being dramatic. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, for example. Evelyn is a dramatic person, but it’s often to her benefit because she’s also intelligent and knows how to use it to gain something.
Jesper Fahey from the Six of Crows duology is also dramatic, but in a good way that adds some comic relief to the story. There’s a balance achieved and it keeps him from being annoying. Would he dance in a rain of bullets? Yeah, but that’s Jesper being Jesper. He’d still get the job done and look great while doing it.
The overly dramatic characters in Shopaholic to the Rescue make the “rescue” part unnecessarily difficult. A large part of the conflict wouldn’t exist if they were rationally behaving adults. Screaming into phones isn’t going to make someone tell you where they’ve secretly driven to.
Everyone is so convinced that Becky’s dad will end up in a ditch somewhere and Suze’s husband will be taken into a cult and lose all his money. No one stops to think that there could be an alternative. And then someone suddenly suggests that Becky’s dad has been having an affair for years? Not helping.
The more time I spent reading, the more I realized how toxic and unhealthy these relationships were. None of the married couples are good examples of healthy, committed relationships. Two of them feature overbearing women and demure men, causing issues with communication and how their lives operate.
Adding to this is my confusion as to why Becky’s dad and Suze’s husband suddenly get these major plot arcs that develop their characters after seven books of them being in the background and one-dimensional.
There’s little build-up to a whole book revolving around them suddenly showing personalities and character motivation. A few mentions in Shopaholic to the Stars, perhaps, but not enough to warrant 400 pages of them running off on some secret quest that suddenly has major life implications.
It didn’t help that I’d also forgotten a lot about some of the characters who appear. Like Alicia Billington (aka Alicia Bitch-Longlegs). I spent 3/4 of the book thinking she was the OBGYN who tried to break up Becky and Luke but it turns out that she’s someone else entirely?? Someone who has repeatedly tried to sabotage Luke.
Really shows how long it’s been since I was invested in the series.
All the supposedly deep, dark secrets in this book also came out of nowhere. Eight books and I’m now expected to believe that Becky’s name has immense meaning to it despite no one ever mentioning that before?
The secrets and drama felt like a desperate attempt to fill the story with more meaning than it was created to have. These books are meant to be fun, to let the reader assure themselves that Becky’s chaos will never be as bad as their own. It’s not written to debate the psychological aspects of several men naming their daughters after a woman they were all in love with.
I don’t know. At this point, I feel like there’s little else to say about Shopaholic to the Rescue. The story felt like it was being unnecessarily dragged out so there could be some kind of cliffhanger from Shopaholic to the Stars.
Plus, the ending was ridiculous. Even for this book. I would never in a million years believe that Luke would put his career on the line for someone that has an incredibly low chance of working. Or that the plan even worked. Or that this book solves Becky’s spending problems.
For a woman who has bankrupted herself, lost her job, nearly cost her husband his job, been fired, gotten multiple warnings from multiple banks, and is currently unemployed, I refuse to believe that having her father and best friend’s husband suddenly leave makes her realize that irresponsible spending doesn’t make her life better.
If it did change her, why is there another book after this one?
Apologies for what is more of a long rant than a review. While I believe that this was once a series I could enjoy, that’s no longer the case. Irresponsible adults bother me in fiction as much as they do in real life. Only I can’t smack them when they’re on a page.
Well, I could, but that wouldn’t be as satisfying.
My run with the Shopaholic series ends here. All the other books I owned in the series have been donated or sold by my parents. I’ll find a way to give this to the library or something. It’s available for someone else who can enjoy this.
This isn’t to say that Sophie Kinsella is a bad writer. I think the issue with a series like the Shopaholic one is that the drama and contemporary stakes have to rise each time. This was an attempt to rise when it actually fell.
It was attempting to fill out a story lore that no one asked for or knew existed in the lead-up to this. Nor did it benefit or change the overall story in any way. It was filler plot for a filler book.
At the very least, I’m glad to be done with the Shopaholic books. I was able to make a fun Reel out of this reading experience, which was nice. I appreciate when books easily turn themselves into content I can easily create and put online.