Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella (The Dual Press, 2015)


True confession. I love chocolate milkshakes and about once a year I will allow myself to order a small one at Wendy's. The frothy drink has little nutritional value, but the naughty delight of the confection makes the no-no calories worthwhile.

The same can be said of indulging in one of Sophie Kinsella's eight Shopaholic novels. The series, which began with Confessions of a Shopaholic, is far from high brow literature, but the books are laugh out loud funny. In fact, I shared aloud Confessions with a Shopaholic with my family on a trip to Florida because the other passengers in the car wanted to know what had me giggling across the miles.

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Becky Bloomwood Brandon is a zany heroine who takes the meaning of serious shopping to new heights. Becky is consumed by the latest trends and frequently envisions herself doing something outrageous while adorned in some new iconic look. Once example of this type of scene occurred in Shopaholic and Sister, when Becky discovered the Angel pocketbook, and was desperate to own one, even though they were impossible to get in the novel. (She does manage to score one, however.) My daughter and I was so enraptured in Becky's enthusiastic descriptions of the purse that we were scanning to see if one were available on the Internet. Unfortunately, the Shopaholic books are fiction, and no, there were no Angel purses in real life. But, that is how Kinsella sucks in the reader to Becky's fantasies of scoring the big look.

In the eighth installment entitled Shopaholic to the Rescue, things are a little topsy-tuvey in Becky's world. She has been called to action by her mother to help her find her father, Graham, who has disappeared along with Lord Cleath Stuart, otherwise known as Tarkie, husband of Becky's best friend, Suze.

At first it is unclear as to whether the two men have been kidnapped or have dropped out of sight on their own accord. Regardless, Becky, her husband, Luke, two and a half year old daughter, Minnie, Janice, Becky's mother's BFF, Suze, and evil nemesis, Alicia (Long Legs Bitch) board an SUV to comb the American Southwest in order to locate the missing husbands and to find out what problem is driving their disappearance. The answer lies in locating old friends and lovers from her father's past and re-mediating wrongs that someone has endured for far too long.

In an odyssey that leads them from small towns, to county fairs, enticing craft shows to the glamour of Las Vegas, Becky faces personal challenges like she has never faced before. And, when Becky does get to the bottom of her father's quandary, she master minds a scheme based on the Oceans 11 movie plot to address the problem and allow her Dad and Tarkie to return to the fold.

Of course, “coming to the rescue” means Becky must behave like a responsible adult, and in doing so really for the first time, our shopaholic looks her obsession with shopping. Even when Suze offers to buy Becky a darling pair of cowboy boots as a conciliatory, the heroine has no desire to be rewarded.

Although there is no great plot to this novel, Kinsella weaves a piece of the story in for each of the characters, whom we have come to know and love (or hate) over the course of the series. When the book wraps up, each of these characters is better off for the tribulations in the course of the novel as Becky's brilliant scheme leads to a resolution that is beneficial to all of her beloved friends and family.