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.’
Figuring out how to talk to children about difficult emotions can sometimes feel impossible. Books can offer a good gateway to starting these conversations. Here are some books that might help you to navigate those tricky topics.
We know it can be tricky to find the perfect recipe to make mum for Mother’s Day so we’ve put together this list of fantastic recipe ideas from some of our favourite cookbooks. Whether you’re looking for a cosy soup or a sweet treat, or something in between, we’ve got you covered!
Author Krystal Sutherland shares her favourite stories.
The First Lady of the United States pens a letter to her younger self.
We wanted to know what young Kiwi readers thought about Jesse O's book Locked Down (hint: they loved it!). Read on to see their reviews.
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 . . .
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)
Find out the inspiration behind Beyond Burnout, as well as what you'll learn from reading it!
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!
In How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates outlines just some of the hurdles between humanity and a net-zero carbon world.
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.
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.