Newest Review: ... really relate the the main character as i myself am a shopaholic, so Sophie Kinsela had built a connection was right from the start. S... more
All we can do... is give chick-lit a chance!
The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella
Member Name: sparkymarky1973
The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella
Advantages: Very funny, often laugh-out-loud hilarious, a real proper hidden gem of a book that anyone can enjoy
Disadvantages: It's chick-lit so may put some readers off......
They say a new year brings fresh experiences and new challenges- well over on the forums at the book swapping site, Readitswapit, that is certainly true! For the new year, some of the regular posters there were thrown down the gauntlet- to read one book this year that they normally wouldn't pick up. Some people got The God Delusion by Robert Dawkins, I got Secret Dreamworld Of A Shopaholic!
It is not my first and only experience of reading chick-lit. I once read a couple of Catherine Alliot novels because I quite fancied the model on the front cover and a few years ago a good friend of mine sent me Sparkle by Louise Bagshawe for a laugh as the title was a play on my online user name. That latter was a real chore of a read; a novel that took itself far too seriously weith a tedious plot and with characters that were about as vacuous as you could get without descending into total banality. (you won't be reading any review of that from me any time soon- thats as good as it gets!) Surely, I thought, Dreamworld can't be as bad as that- for one thing it's shorter and it's supposed to be funny....
Well, after two days reading, I finished Dreamworld; one of only two people to have read their challenge books so quickly, and I hate to admit it but a part of me actually enjoyed it. So much so that I am thinking of seriously going down the library again and picking up some of the others in the series...I just won't be reading them in public in case people get the wrong idea! (like perhaps my sexuality is in question!!??!!)
Rebecca Bloomwood is a financial journalist working for a rag-tag money magazine who is more interested in shopping, grande cappuccino and ruthlessly avoiding any mention of the tide of debt she herself is in. Her overdraft has hit the roof, her flexible friend is no longer that flexible and a multitude of letters are coming through her door demanding payment despite her feeble excuses as to why she hasn't paid. Her love-life is non-existant but thats okay because Harvey Nichols has a sale on and she's just seen some soft furnishings that are simply, absolutely to die for.
So begins Dreamworld and, at first, I fdound myself totally detesting Bex and her fantasy world that lies a million miles away from reality. Told from her perspective, the book portrays Rebecca to begin with as a radically unlikeable character who is so shallow that she makes a puddle look deep and thoughtful. Her mind flitters from one clothing shop to another, never really taking in anything serious and she comes across as one of the most hateful characters I have ever had the misfortune to come across either in literature or in real-life. By the third or fourth chapter, I actually found myself positively hoping for something bad to befall her and for her whole world to come crashing down around her feet and this is not something I normally hope for about the main character in a book. Surely such women couldn't exist in real-life? (I have since found out from a fellow member on RISI that not only do they exist but that my friend actually knows a few girls that are like this!!!!)
But by around chapter six or seven, something changed and I actually began to find the book amusing!! The letters from her bank and Visa company are highly amusing as they detail the varied excuses Bex has used to extract herself from her financial situation and her attempts to better herself by blatantly bulls***ing on her C.V are laugh-out-loud hilarious. There is a hidden message here and it is that you can't run away from your problems and that sometimes you need to turn and face reality and somehow this contrives to make the whole thing not just work but be a real pleasure to read. One of the things that puts a smile on your face is that actually, reading this, you find yourself realising you are not such a bad person after all and that actually compared to Rebecca Bloomwood you are probably positively saintly. It's a real feel-good book that makes you look a bit more positively at your own life and feel less negative about your own. And maybe that's the point- maybe thats why Bex has been written and created as being so beastly!
Once you understand this then the book just flies by. I actually caught myself snickering out loud on several occassions and that is something normally reserved for Terry Pratchett. By actually enjoying my challenge book, I even surprised myself and I cannot believe that I have now been converted to chick-lit!! One of the reasons for this review in fact is so that I have cold, hard proof that I actually enjoyed the book and so that, in a couple of weeks, I don't look back and think it was all a delusion!
Of course, everything turns out good for Rebecca in the end- though I won't spoil how that happens- and she ends up becoming something of a heroine. But thats the thing with fiction, anything can happen and it is a testament to Sophie Kinsella that the reader actually finds themself believing how this book finishes and finding it's ending credible. I think, on the basis of this novel, that Kinsella is a very talented and inventive writer who deserves every bit of praise she gets. She certainly had me hooked and it got to a stage where I didn't want to put this down. And coming from a bloke, a real man's man, thats a real reccommendation!!! Now, for some reason I must go out and buy some shoes......
Summary: A shopaholic finds herself facing up to a dire situation and turns around her life almost by chance