Mini Shopaholic – Sophie Kinsella

“Shopaholic Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood)’s two-year-old is … spirited. She knows what she wants, whether it’s a grown-up Prada handbag or a toy pony (40% off, so a bargain, surely?) When yet another shopping trip turns to mayhem, Becky decides it’s time to give Minnie her own pocket money. Is it a bad sign when Minnie goes instantly overdrawn? Minnie isn’t the only one in financial crisis. As the Bank of London collapses, people are having to Cut Back. Everyone needs cheering up, so what better way to do it than to throw a fabulous surprise party? A thrifty party, of course. Except economising and keeping a secret have never been Becky’s strong points…”

I loved Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series from book one, so when I saw adverts for this I couldn’t wait to get hold of it. The last time we saw Becky she had just given birth and I couldn’t wait to see how someone with such an exuberant (and somewhat flippant) personality would go about bringing up a miniature version of herself. Mini Shopaholic didn’t fail to disappoint. It had all the great points of the series – Becky’s contrasting ditziness and innovative business sense that make me hope that I’ll be like her one day (if a bit less ditzy), Luke’s Blackberry constantly being welded to his ear, some fabulous outfits – and the far-fetched excuses Becky invents to justify buying them.

But Kinsella goes deeper than that; we continue to see the growth and dynamic of key relationships in the novel – between Becky and her mother, her best friend Suze, her friend-turned-famous designer Danny and, most played upon, the frosty relationship between Becky and Luke’s mother Elinor. Like you do with an episode of your favourite TV show, I’ve stayed hooked on what’s going to happen next. Events and arguments feel realistic and believable through Kinsella’s careful crafting of this quirky characters, who have come to feel almost like family members; the slightly insane neighbour Janice, her exasperating mother and the seems-to-have-everything best friend Suze.

Unlike the other Shopaholic novels, Kinsella leaves some events untied and unresolved – Luke’s falling-out with his birth mother, for example – keeping readers on tenterhooks for the next chapter.

People may think that the Shopaholic series is escapist and just good fun. It is that, but with her latest offering, Kinsella proves that her novels go deeper than that; it’s not just shopping and outfits, but these poignant events and relationship dynamics more than scratch the surface, giving readers a novel with heart. More please!

Many thanks to Transworld for the review copy.

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