Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Confessions of a Shopaholic

            I read the first book in this series (at the recommendation of my friend, Ashley :) several years ago and while I thought it was funny and entertaining. I must 'confess,' that I was not amused by the utter lack of responsibility and foresight of the main character. She-Bex, Becky or Rebecca-is presented as an intelligent, educated, young woman with an uncontrollable addiction to shopping and spending and an inability to tell the truth if it is disappointing to others. In the books, she is constantly pursued by creditors and bankers while she tries to pretend this is not happening and lies continually to cover up her folly. I don't see the connection between her intelligence and her utter lack of self-control besides the fact that she uses her cleverness to lie and finagle a way out of the messes she cooks up time after time. I recently read books two through six and only once in those five did she actually do something self-sacrificing to reduce her monstrous shopping debt (she organized a sale of many of her designer clothes in the second book, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan). Otherwise, she is bailed out of her problems by extraordinary means and without much inconvenience to herself. In Shopaholic Ties the Knot, Becky allows her mother and mother-in-law to simultaneously plan two different weddings in two different countries on the same day up until 3 weeks before the big day. She is stressed and worried, but continues to lie and try to ignore the reality of the situation. Instead of coming clean, she lies to her mother about a supposed financial conference to get that wedding changed to the following day and asks an important client to fly her and her fiancee on a private jet directly from New York wedding to British wedding. In Shopaholic & Sister, Luke wants Becky to go on a budget. Instead, she begins selling truckloads of honeymoon souvenirs on E-Bay to fund her luxurious lifestyle. In Mini-Shopaholic, Becky is trying not to spend much money, but buys loads of things from the dollar store and clothes of any and all sizes for her two year old daughter, while planning a surprise birthday party for 200 people for her husband. She gets into a mess and is bouncing all of her credit cards and unable to pay for the event, until Luke's estranged mother comes into the picture, pays for and helps organize the party-an unbelievably lavish event.

Now, I realize that these books and their outlandish situations are not to be taken too seriously. The tangle of problems that Becky winds up with can be funny. I've read all of them, so obviously I find them entertaining and the main character usually has good intentions (apart from the self-obsessed shopping) throughout these wild scenarios. Becky is warm and caring, loves her friends and family, and is usually in these tough spots because she's trying to please everyone at once. The problem that I have with her is her lack of integrity and the constant lying. She lies to her friends, her husband, complete strangers, her parents...the lies multiply as the stories go on, until Becky is caught in the lie or manipulates her way out and covers the lies. Interestingly, the movie ends with a better message than most of the books. The character owns up to her deceit and finds help for her shopping addiction.

These books are an odd mix of foolish fun and cuteness, but are sadly lacking in 'moral of the story.' I'm not sure if I'll read a 7th book, but heroine Becky is adorable and it would be hard not to know what comical mistakes she will make next in her quest for happiness and shoes.

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