> Skip to content

Article  •  12 May 2016

 

Retail therapy

Anonymous beginnings to international hit: Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series.

Becky Bloomwood’s method of managing money is to hide her credit card bills under the bed and hope they’ll disappear. While most people may not go that far, anyone who has ever enjoyed the thrill of the hunt at a sale, fallen in lust with a pair of dreamy shoes – or tried to ignore a bill – catches glimpses of themselves in Becky and her naked love of beautiful objects wrapped in tissue paper in carry-bags, preferably those bearing a designer name.

From the moment the Confessions of a Shopaholic series debuted in 2000, Becky captured the hearts of readers around the world. Much to the surprise of Becky’s creator, UK author Sophie Kinsella: so unsure was Kinsella that people would ‘get’ the fun, big-spending Becky, she submitted the first manuscript anonymously. Luckily, she also listened to her instinct.

‘I could just see it going on all around me,’ she told The Guardian in 2012. ‘We all talked about shopping, we went shopping, the store card thing was massive, and I could see the hypocrisy of taking out the credit card, then being shouted at for not paying it off. I thought, “Wait a minute, shopping has become the national pastime, and nobody has written about it”.’

Besides the hugely successful Shopaholic series, the mother of five – four sons and a daughter – has written seven bestselling standalone novels under her real name, Madeleine Wickham. (Sophie Kinsella is a combination of her middle name and her mother’s maiden name.)

‘I get a real buzz from writing the standalone novels,’ says Kinsella on her website. ‘I think because it’s all new – I get to create a new heroine, give her new situations, put her in all new comedy moments and give her the most embarrassing scenes I can!’

Ten Shopaholic books and over a decade of massive change later, the universal love for Becky remains undiminished. ‘What I had no idea was how many Becky Bloomwoods there are out there in this world. They’re in every country, as far as I can make out.’

It’s not only Becky’s crazy shopping habits that makes the series such an enduring sensation. Kinsella is a wickedly witty writer, brilliant at conjuring endlessly inventive plots that send the well-meaning Becky on hilarious escapades as she tries to make amends for her mistakes. And rather than remain the ditzy (but never stupid) 25-year-old financial journalist readers met in the first book, Becky has evolved, going on to change careers, discover a secret sister (Shopaholic and Sister), marry the divine Luke Brandon (Shopaholic Ties the Knot), and become a mother (Shopaholic & Baby).

Kinsella is rightly dubbed the UK’s queen of romantic comedy, and is rightly proud of her success. As she said in an interview in The Independent: ‘It’s an honourable thing to write a book that helps someone laugh and escape real life for a while.’


The Secret Dreamworld Of A Shopaholic Sophie Kinsella

When the going gets tough – the tough go shopping…

Buy now
Buy now

More features

See all
Article
Locked Down: A note from the author

When Jesse O wrote Locked Down (then titled Staying Home) back in 2011, she never imagined that almost a decade later, the events of her novel would prove spookily accurate . . .

Article
The road trip that inspired Showtym Adventures 8!

Syd, the Muster Pony tells the story of the Wilson sisters' most epic adventure yet, and it's inspired by a real-life road trip Kelly and her sisters took in 2001! (warning: this article might induce a desperate longing to go adventuring around the country, read on at your own risk)

Article
Suzi McAlpine on the inspiration behind Beyond Burnout

Find out the inspiration behind Beyond Burnout, as well as what you'll learn from reading it!

Article
YA fiction we can't wait to read in 2021!

From contemporary rom-coms, to literary debuts, to the creepiest modern gothic fairytale you could imagine (seriously . . . it is AWESOME!), we've got some stellar YA lined up for you this year. Read on for recommendations for your TBR pile!

Article
This will be hard

In How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates outlines just some of the hurdles between humanity and a net-zero carbon world.

Article
Beyond Hairy Maclary

Hairy Maclary and his friends are known and loved all over the world. But how familiar are you with Dame Lynley Dodd's other creations? There are plenty to discover, and just like Hairy Maclary, they all feature Lynely's uniquely exuberant artwork and gorgeously readable rhymes! Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Article
A sneak peek at our 2021 kids books!

After an exhausting and unusual 2020, we’ve got plenty of reasons to be grateful for a new year, not least because of the stellar line up of children’s books we have coming your way over the next few months!Read on for a sneak peek at some of the best new children’s books we’re bringing to you in 2021.

Article
Beautiful NZ Picture Books from 2020

Sometimes a story is best told alongside a beautiful picture, Here's a small selection of some of our favourite 2020 picture books from local creators. 

Article
Sophie Gray's top tips for a cracker Christmas

If you’re planning to head to the shops for a last-minute Christmas here's what destitute gourmet wants you to think about! 

Article
5 audiobooks for your summer road trip

If you’re new to the world of audiobooks and aren’t sure where to start or if you’re looking for the perfect book to listen to on your summer road trip adventures, we’ve got some great suggestions for you! 

Article
Themes from A Promised Land

From the influence of family to his political rise and the world events that shaped his presidency, Barack Obama covers enormous ground in his Presidential Memoirs, Volume 1: A Promised Land. Here we break down some of the key themes and turning points.

Article
A Promised Land: key events

From inauguration through to Operation Neptune’s Spear, take a look at the milestones covered in Barack Obama's riveting memoir.

Looking for more articles?

See all articles