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Literature / Shopaholic

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A series of chick-lit novels written by British author Sophie Kinsella, Shopaholic stars Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood), a (predictably enough) shopaholic. The first book starts out with Becky smack-dab in the middle of her addiction, living in a flat with her best friend Suze in London. Every book focuses on Becky's struggles in life, which she manages to survive with flying colors (or, more specifically, talent she doesn't realize and a lot of luck).

The series is quite funny and written in absorbing first-person prose, though it suffers from unrealism and Moral Dissonance. Despite that, it is a big seller in the chick-lit department. A movie based on the first book was released in February 2009, retitled Confessions of a Shopaholic and set in New York City.

The characters:

  • Becky Brandon, a former financial journalist turned personal shopper (which basically comes out to fashion consultant for normal people)
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  • Suze Cleath-Stuart, Becky's artistic best friend and former flatmate
  • Luke Brandon, the creator of the PR company Brandon Communications; later Becky's boyfriend and husband
  • Graham and Jane Bloomwood, Becky's caring but quarrelsome parents
  • Jess, Becky's frugal, long-lost sister who's more than just 'careful' with her money
  • Tarquin Cleath-Stuart, Suze's distant cousin and later husband who used to have a crush on Becky
  • Tom Webster, Becky's next-door neighbor who doesn't seem to have much luck with romance

In order, the series is as follows:

  • The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic (UK)/Confessions of a Shopaholic (North America)
  • Shopaholic Abroad (UK)/Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (North America)
  • Shopaholic Ties the Knot
  • Shopaholic on Honeymoon (Short E-Story that can be read on Sophie Kinsella's website)
  • Shopaholic & Sister
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  • Shopaholic & Baby
  • Mini Shopaholic
  • Shopaholic to the Stars
  • Shopaholic to the Rescue
  • Christmas Shopaholic

This series provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The Movie is pretty good.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Becky never quite learns to cut back on her extreme shopping habit. She's only able to clear her debt in Shopaholic/Confessions because she's lucky enough to wrangle a job on television but promptly ends up back in severe debt during Abroad/Manhattan. Her extreme shopping habit then causes a lot of tension in Sister when Becky accidentally sells something purchased for Luke's clients, assuming it was something she had bought and forgotten about. Becky does improve slightly in the final books, if only because she has other things to worry about rather than shopping.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Suze fondly calls Becky 'Bex'.
  • All Women Love Shoes: Becky and Suze fall into this. Jess doesn't, however.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Becky Bloomwood and Becky Brandon.
    • Sage Seymour.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents
    • Mrs Bloomwood. When Luke finally asks Becky to marry him, Becky's mother shouts 'YES!' for her, at the top of her voice.
    • Their next-door neighbour Janice is also this to her son, Tom. After he gets married to Becky's half sister Jess, Janice goes out of her way to secure herself a grandchild. To the point of hiding their contraceptives and trying to trick Jess into taking pre-natal vitamins.
  • Arc Words: “OK. Don't panic.” at the start of almost every book.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!:
    • Becky when it comes to shopping. She goes to a museum to try and better herself but is quickly distracted by the gift shop.
    • Suze in the early books is very similar; whenever Becky comes home with a shiny new shopping bag she drops everything in order to find out what's inside.
  • Better as Friends: Becky and Tarquin come to this conclusion, and do end up being quite close friends. However Becky never did have a romantic attraction to him, she just briefly considered it because he's wealthy. However, she does quickly chastise herself for even thinking like that.
  • Biggus Dickus: Supposedly, Tarquin is quite generous in this area.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • While she might be Luke's ex-girlfriend, Venetia Carter comes across as a kind and caring person who only has Becky's best interests at heart. However, it's quickly revealed that she's anything but when she starts gaslighting Becky into thinking that Luke wants to leave her. Venetia wants Luke back, and will absolutely take Becky down if it means getting her own way. Becky notices her true colours early on, but it takes Luke a little longer to catch on, though he is absolutely furious when he realises the hell that she has been putting a pregnant Becky through.
    • Lois Kellerton appears desperately unhappy and worryingly fragile when she first runs into Becky, and it's revealed that she's been struggling a lot with her career. Becky is very concerned about her delicate state of mind until it's revealed that it's a total act to try and drum up some publicity; and that her rival Sage has been in on the act the whole time. This doesn't stop Lois from taking full advantage of Becky's generosity.
  • Blatant Lies: Becky lies constantly throughout the series.
  • Break the Cutie: Becky really does go through an awful lot throughout the books. She keeps slipping into debt, she is publicly humiliated and loses all her television career prospects, she tries and fails to connect to a secret sister she never knew she had (though this, fortunately, ends with her finally bonding with Jess), she can't even enjoy the run-up to her own wedding because her mother and mother-in-law are both adamant that it's done their way, she has to cope with Luke's ex-girlfriend trying to break them up while she's pregnant, she then finds herself having to move back home because hers and Luke's home isn't ready yet, she's used by two celebrities when she's just trying to make a career for herself, and then she has to cope with her father and Tarquin getting caught up in a cult, and temporarily losing Suze as a best friend. While some of that is Becky's own fault, you can't deny that she has gone through a lot.
  • Bridezilla: Surprisingly averted with Becky. While in the end, she ends up having two weddings in order to please both her mother and mother-in-law, neither of them was the wedding that she actually wanted. She realises that she just wants to be married to Luke and even briefly debates about eloping with him instead.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Becky might be in debt when she's working in finance, but she actually does know her stuff and is able to give some pretty sound advice to people. Becky herself is surprised by this, and assumes that she has absorbed more knowledge than she thought about finance while working at Successful Saving. Though the fact she keeps sliding into debt is what ultimately costs her a career in finance, as people are reluctant to invest in someone who is terrible with money herself.
  • City Mouse: Becky is this when she returns from New York to live back at home with her parents in a quiet English village.
  • Creepy Doll: Elinor's baby gift for Minnie is an antique china doll (a rather impractical gift for a newborn baby). Becky describes it as having "ringlets and scary eyes, like in a horror film." She ends up selling the doll on eBay after Jane decides it's too spooky to have in the house.
  • Darker and Edgier: Shopaholic and Baby is notably more serious than the previous books, and shows Becky growing up and actually learning from her previous mistakes. This increases even more with Mini Shopaholic.
    • And it intensifies even further in Shopaholic to the Rescue. Tarquin and Graham run away with a potential cult leader on a mission to find Graham's mysterious former friend, Suze stops talking to Becky and becomes best friends with Alicia, and Becky no longer wants to shop because she doesn't feel like she deserves it. And that's just the first third.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Luke, especially when dealing with Becky and her more eccentric ideas.
    • Jess has her moments.
    • As warm and kind as Michael is, he also has a wonderfully deadpan sense of humour.
  • Dr. Jerk: Dr Venetia Carter. She breaks countless moral codes as Becky's obstetrician.
  • Flanderization Jess starts out as a well-meaning, if strict, Granola Girl who is thrifty but willing to indulge others when it comes to their spending habits, but steadily becomes 'greener' and more militant as the books go on. As of Shopaholic Christmas, she is an avid vegan who obsesses about consumerism, finds almost everything “problematic” and even looks down on recycling because it's still not good enough for her. The fact she gives 'words' instead of presents at Christmas is supposed to be heartwarming when it's closer to Narm Charm.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Averted. Becky falls behind with the rent when she's living with Suze, who often has to pay it for her.
  • Gaslighting: Venetia does this to a pregnant and vulnerable Becky. As her obstetrician, Venetia purposefully and gleefully preys on Becky's fears about pregnancy, such as pointing out varicose veins that don't exist and by taking away her beloved shoes and handbag while claiming that they're not good for her health. Venetia then makes various excuses to spend time with Luke, spends their appointments talking to Luke and ignoring her own patient, and then eventually tells Becky that Luke does want to leave her, he's only staying for the sake of the baby. She's only caught out at the very end when Becky desperately blurts out a piece of information that she wouldn't have known if Venetia hadn't of said it, which immediately clues Luke into what's really going on.
  • Genius Ditz: Becky comes across like this, she's actually pretty smart when she puts her mind to it.
  • Hospital Hottie: Venetia Carter is tall and beautiful with gorgeous red hair. She knows it, too.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • In the first book, Becky accuses her mother of wasting money by constantly buying new decor and appliances for the kitchen. Of course, Becky isn't exactly the poster girl for sensible spending.
    • When Becky gets a weekend salesclerk job, she intends to purchase a particular pair of jeans with her employee discount, but a customer gets her hands on the jeans first. Becky thinks to herself that this is completely unfair because the customer would "probably wear them once and chuck them out — or never wear them at all!" Becky's own closet contains countless clothes that are unworn or that have been worn only once.
  • Ice Queen: Elinor, Luke's birth mother is this.
  • Idiot Ball: Becky is prone to clutching this tightly and not letting go until the very last minute.
    • In Dreamworld/Confessions Becky has numerous chances to admit that she's in debt and needs some help. She works in finance, she knows exactly how it works and who to go to. She even ends up advising someone else who is in the exact same situation as her on what they should do, and the irony doesn't hit her until afterwards. Becky's just lucky that she was able to land a high-paying television job at the last minute.
    • Due to trying to be crafty and sending her clothes ahead to the hotel she and Luke are staying at, Becky is left with no clothes other than a nightshirt when her package doesn't show up. Luke suggests that Becky goes into the local city to do some shopping, but Becky refuses, as she had promise Suze that she wouldn't. This is perhaps the one situation where Suze would completely understand that Becky urgently needs to do some clothes shopping. Becky picked an awfully strange time to suddenly develop a moral code.
    • Given the fact that Becky lied about having a stalker, a lot of people doubt that she's actually dating Luke Brandon, especially when a recent magazine article printed that he was single. So when Luke is late for Tom and Lucy's wedding, people naturally assume that Becky really is making it up. Becky's response is to just lie yet again and claim that he's only half an hour away, and then claims that he's actually at the reception but people keep missing him. However, she's found out and is only saved when Luke does show up. She also apparently didn't bother to check her phone, which has several messages from Luke about being late. Becky could have even shown these messages as proof.
    • Luke, Becky and Minnie are living with Becky's parents at the start of Mini Shopaholic while they are looking for somewhere to live. They find a house that's perfect, but everything falls through at the last minute. On seeing how relieved the Bloomwoods were to have their home back to themselves, Luke and Becky decide to stay in a hotel until their house is sorted. For some unknown reason, Becky decides to lie about this to her parents, telling them that they were moving into the house instead. There is no reason for her to do this, her mother is furious when she finds out, and it drives a rift between Becky and her mother for the rest of the book.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every book has the word "shopaholic" in the title.
  • If I Were A Rich Woman: In Confessions/Dreamworld, Becky decides to make more money by winning the lottery. She then daydreams about all the things she would buy with her winnings, only to get cross when she realises that she still wouldn't have enough to buy a mansion with the money that's leftover after wiping out her debts and giving various gifts to her friends and family.
  • It's for a Book: After learning that she's pregnant, Becky writes a letter to Harvey Nichols, asking them a "hypothetical research question" about whether a woman who gave birth in their store would be eligible to receive free clothes for life.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The 'evil' debt collector in the second book, John Gavin, actually has a point when he gives the reason for denying Becky an extended overdraft.
    John Gavin: "This is Becky Bloomwood who has had her overdraft limit extended six times in the last year. And who each time has failed to keep within those limits. This is Becky Bloomwood who has consistently lied, who has consistently avoided meetings, who has treated bank staff with little or no respect, and who seems to think we're all here solely to fund her appetite for shoes. I've looked at your file, Miss Bloomwood. I know the picture."
  • Karma Houdini: Becky, over and over again
    • Averted in Shopaholic Abroad. When Alicia feeds info about her shopping addiction and financial irresponsibility to the Daily World, she loses her job, all prospects for future related jobs (and she never does work in finance ever again), Luke's respect, and the respect of nearly everyone in the US and Britain.
  • Kissing Cousins: Suze and Tarquin, though they're distant cousins.
    • Suze does comment that one benefit of marrying him is that she doesn't have to change her last name.
  • Lethal Chef: Becky tries making her own curry to save money on takeout meals. It's incredibly, painfully hot. Becky and Suze only manage to eat a few bites before Suze decides to order takeout after all.
  • Let's Have Another Baby: Becky says this to Luke in Mini Shopaholic. Luke doesn't like the idea because they haven't bought a house yet and they already have their hands full just dealing with Minnie.
  • Lots of Luggage: Becky will get hysterical if someone tells her to pack light for a trip. Her preferred method of packing is to include outfits for every contingency she can think of, no matter how unlikely it is. She also tends to shop a great deal during trips, so she usually returns home with more luggage than she left with.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Jane and Janice, when they accompany Becky to her birthing class in Shopaholic and Baby.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: In the first book, Becky arrives at her parents' house in a distraught state, having finally realized that her debts are out of control. Before she can explain this to her mother, Jane says, "And I know that if it were a case of us looking after a ... a little one, while you pursued your career..." Becky interrupts by exclaiming that she's not pregnant. In Shopaholic Ties The Knot, Becky starts to tell her mother about problems with her upcoming wedding, and Jane makes a circling gesture with her arms and says she just needs to know "how much to let the dress out by." Becky again has to correct her mother and say that she's not pregnant.
  • Mistaken for Servant: In Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, Becky wears a black skirt and a white blouse to a party where she barely knows anyone. The wait staff there are all wearing white shirts and black skirts or pants, so several party guests mistake Becky for a waitress.
  • Money Dumb: It follows a woman that has severe compulsion for buying clothes and luxury items, leading her to be entirely in debt for the most part of her adult life. All of her purchases are frivolous and/or unnecessary (though she always rationalizes for what she needed to buy it). It crosses into Ambiguous Disorder as she shows symptoms of having Compulsive Buying Disorder, especially in the movie, where the mannequins actually talk her into buying stuff.
  • Never Wake Up a Sleepwalker: Early in the first book, Becky walks into her and Suze's apartment while Suze is doing yoga. Becky narrates, "I don't want to disturb her in case yoga is like sleepwalking and you're not meant to wake people when they're doing it."
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Becky's parents don't believe her when she says she's dating Luke, the head of a big PR company.
  • One Drink Will Kill the Baby: Averted. When Becky is upset about Luke and Venetia Carter, Suze tells her to drink some wine to calm down, saying, "Just a sip won't hurt the baby."
  • Pair the Spares
    • Tom and Jess. Tom has had a crush on Becky ever since they were children and ends up marrying her half-sister instead.
    • Suze and Tarquin. Tarquin also had a crush on Becky in the first book.
  • Photographic Memory: Luke is said to have one of these. We never see if he actually does—chances are Becky's just exaggerating.
  • Product Placement: In Shopaholic Abroad, Becky and Suze eat Kit Kats very often because a friend of Suze's got her lots of them. In Mini Shopaholic there's a Call-Back to it as during the meetings with Elinor to plan Luke's surprise party, Becky comments that she doesn't know the function of a Kit Kat.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Becky routinely lies her way out of being a responsible adult without facing barely any serious consequences (and the few times she does, everything ends up okay with her seemingly having forgotten her lesson).
  • Retail Therapy: Becky winds up in massive debt because she uses spending to cope with negative emotions, and the debt leads to more negative emotions and more spending.
  • Rich Bitch
    • If her fashion sense is anything to go by, Alicia.
    • Venetia Carter.
    • Lulu
    • Elinor Sherman
  • Running Gag
    • Becky daydreams leading her to thinking that she'll be known as 'The Girl in [insert clothing item here]'
    • Played with in Shopaholic Ties The Knot; she instead thinks that she'll be known as 'The Girl Who Changed Elinor Sherman'
  • Scrapbook Story: The trope is taken partway: Chapters begin with letters and other documents.
  • Spoiled Sweet:
    • Becky is materialistic, has an unhealthy obsession with shopping and spending money, and constantly lies to stay out of trouble. However, a fair amount of what she spends is on gifts for her friends and family, and she's more than happy to loan out her clothes and accessories to people she barely knows, regardless of how much they cost. Becky is always willing to support her friends, whether it's inadvertently buying up all of Suze's home-made picture frames so she gets her own range, or letting Danny design clothes for her to try and get him noticed by the fashion industry. Becky is especially wonderful with the easily stressed Luke and often tries to find ways to comfort and relax him.
    • Suze comes from an incredibly wealthy background and wants for nothing money-wise, especially when she marries into even more money. However, she's also very generous with it and often helps Becky pay rent and various other bills without asking for anything in return.
  • Status Quo Is God: In each book, we see Becky learning a heartwarming Aesop about love, family and not spending too much etc...only to find that she reverts back to her shopaholic ways in the next one. However, there are some changes and continuity nods—Becky learns thriftiness in one book and in the next is still seen doing a few things thriftily. By the time of Shopaholic to the Stars and To the Rescue, she is genuinely trying to be better.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Despite not being a TV character, Becky somehow manages to wear different clothes every single day. Indeed, it's a wonder how it all fits in Suze's wardrobe in the first two books.
    • In The Movie, as well as the second book, it does not fit in the wardrobe until Becky vacuum-packs it all, and even then it falls out when the closet door is opened.
    • Finally, in Mini Shopaholic, Becky makes a deal with Luke that she won't buy herself any new clothes until she's worn everything in her wardrobe at least three times. Jess comes around to help her inventory everything, and they conclude that even if Becky wears as many layers as possible, every day, she still won't be able to buy clothes until late October. This promise is made in early January.
  • Wham Line:
    • From Shopaholic to the Stars: "We're all called Rebecca."
    • The 'word' that Becky gives to Luke at the end of Christmas Shopaholic "Pregnant"


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