“ Genre: Fiction / Author: Beth Harbison / Paperback / 336 Pages / Book is published 2008-08-28 by Arrow Books Ltd „
Lorna is a waitress with a passion for shoes and likes nothing better than splashing out on the latest pair of Jimmy Choo's or Manalo Blahnik's. When she arrives home one day to find that her electricity has been cut off, she's confused. Surely she paid the bill, didn't she? Well, no as it happens she didn't, she bought shoes instead. As she finally opens her bills the reality hits her. Lorna is in debt. $30,000 worth of debt....and she only has shoes to show for it.
Lorna realises that if she wants to clear her debt shoes cannot feature in her immediate future. Feeling she can't go without her fix, she places an ad online for a weekly meet which she calls 'Shoe addicts anonymous' - the idea being that people go to swap shoes.
Helene is married to a very controlling politician, Jim, and is deeply unhappy in her marriage. The only comfort she gets is shoe shopping, but when Jim cancels her cards, Helene flips. Can Shoe Addicts anonymous save her?
Sandra is a phone sex operator - an ironic job choice some might say, as she is painfully shy and suffers agoraphobia, so rarely leaves the house. She has become very overweight and her self esteem is at an all time low. Sandra's only enjoyment in life is buying shoes online...after all, it doesn't matter how much weight you put on, shoes will always fit. When she spots Lorna's ad for Shoe Addicts Anonymous online, it could be just the thing she needs to finally get her out of the house.
Joss is working as a nanny for the Oliver family. She is fond of the two boys she looks after, despite the fact they are rowdy and often play up and she is generally overworked by their domineering mother Deena. When Joss realises that Deena is expecting her to use her night off to look after the boys, she looks for something, anything, to get her out of the house. She spots an ad for Shoe Addicts Anonymous, and although she has no interest in shoes it falls on her night off, so signs herself up.
==What I thought==
I got this book as someone on the readitswapit website asked to swap one of my books and this was the only of theirs that jumped out at me. I must admit it was the fun sounding title that appealed to me, although once I'd got it, it sat there a couple of months before I felt the urge to read it.
Not having read anything by this author before (or indeed heard of her), I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy it. I also had reservations due to the fact it is set in America (Washington DC) as in the past I've found I prefer books by British Authors and often don't fully identify with stories set on the other side of the Atlantic.
I needn't have worried really, as the moment I started reading this I was hooked. The book is written in a very easy to read style and I was drawn in immediately by Lorna's predicament.
All four of the main characters are easy to identify with, and I liked and had sympathy for them all, as each woman seemed to be struggling in at least one part of her life. We followed each characters story individually as well as seeing them when they were together as a group, so I felt that we got to know each character well, despite the book being a fairly average 326 pages long.
Time is devoted to each woman equally, so it never comes across as their being just one main character as such. I actually liked that their were lots of little stories interwoven as it kept my attention, and it seemed that there was always something new happening.
Although I liked each of the four main characters, there were characters elsewhere that were not so nice, and I always feel it's good to have a bit of a bad guy in a story, to stop it being too sickly sweet. The main one for me was Jim, Helene's husband, who was an arrogant and unlikeable character, and I spent most of the book just hoping that he would get his comeuppance.
I have to admit that in the end I didn't find this book as fluffy as I had imagined it would be. The tongue in cheek title perhaps makes it sound like the book will be a bit on the silly side, but it actually turned out to be a really endearing story about a group of women who come together to relax, have a bit of fun (and swap shoes!) at a time when they are all facing personal struggles.
One thing I would say is that I don't feel you have to be a shoe lover to appreciate this book. I personally do like my shoes, but I don't think I'd class myself as an addict. Although plenty of references are made to shoes and designers, on the whole I feel this is more a story of friendship than it is a story of shoes! If you're a chick-lit fan or someone who is looking for an easy read, I'd say that you shouldn't let the shoe theme put you off, because even if you're not a shoe-a-holic, there's no reason you won't enjoy this book.
**** Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison ****
This book is about four very different woman who all have one thing in common .They all have the same shoe size and love shoes.
Lorna-Unfortunately this is a character i can relate to-she can't stop spending money even though she is in debt.She is the one that brings the group together as she wants to stop spending as much money on shoes but doesn't want to give them up and thinks that this is the perfect way to do so.
Helene-This character shows that money does not buy happiness as she wants to leave her husband but doesn't know how she will manage without him(money wise any way)
Sandra-Frumpy,overweight and shy in "real life" that is.She works as a phone sex operator in order to pay for shoes and so that she doesn't have to leave the house.She joins the group to help her get ovr her phoebia.
Joss-Is a Nanny that hates her job that much that she joins the shoe club just to get out the house.
The book was really easy to read and the author made the characters sound believable -you found yourself feeling sorry for them etc
I am a book addict. I can't help it - no matter how many I have on my shelf to read, or how big the 'on-loan' pile from the library is, if I see another book that looks appealing to me, I have to have it. Depending on how much it appeals to me, it'll end up near the top of the pile and this book was one of those. My library pile was nicely ordered but when I finished my previous one, my next choice wasn't really that appealing, so I skipped down the pile a bit and pulled this book out. It sounded funny, which was just what I needed so I decided to give it a go, hoping it'd be another successful choice of mine!
Lorna, Helene, Sandra and Joss all love shoes. But behind the addiction, all the women hide various secrets threatening to ruin their lives in different ways. Lorna has enormous debts, but just can't resist the latest Jimmy Choo's, piling them on yet another credit card. Helene is married to a politician, but behind the public face lies a very unhappy marriage, and secrets Helene is hiding from her own husband that she doesn't want to get out. Sandra has a double life, she works as phone-sex operator called Penelope to get some easy cash, and this is how she funds her shoe addiction. Finally, Joss is a nanny for the most awful family and is so desperate to get out of the house she's willing to join any group. The ladies meet at 'Shoe Addicts Anonymous', and realise they are all going to be friends for a very long time...
As you can probably tell from the plot-line and its cartoony-style cover, this book is pretty fluffy chick-lit, and probably not one for those who dislike this genre purely because you probably won't enjoy it. However, I did find this to be better than some of the books I have read belonging to this genre, and the book did have some more serious notes weaved in the 'shoes addicts' storyline, which gave the book a bit of an edge. The book was very enjoyable, and mainly because of the author's really enjoyable writing style, it was a fun and easy going read with likeable characters whose world you quickly get absorbed into.
For me, it was the characters which made this book enjoyable for me. Although they all had their problems, they were all really normal and likeable sounding people and you quickly found yourself being absorbed into their different worlds. Although its centred on four different women, you never find yourself getting their stories confused because they are so different. All of their personal lives are equally interesting and fun to read, and Harbison's writing style adapts to each of the characters with ease, letting the story flow seamlessly, and develop in a natural path. With a story involving so many characters and plot-lines, there's a danger the reader could lose interest or become confused (as I have done with books in the past) with all the people you're reading about, but this definitely doesn't happen in this well constructed story.
Lorna's struggles with money is something that is quite a problem these days, although your electricity being cut off is pretty bad and I wouldn't let it get that far! Lorna was definitely the most likeable of the bunch, and I looked forward to her part of the story as I read about each of the others, she seemed like someone I'd want to be friends with myself! Helene's story was intriguing, you could tell there was more to it that met the eye and the way the story unfolded was good, and kept you wanting to find out more. She's a bit of an oppressed woman, and Harbison tackled the issue of her struggling relationship and Helene being paraded around very well, with real emotion and understanding. Sandra's life was amusing yet at the same time quite sad because she has bad agoraphobia, and I think the author tackled this issue very well, with realistic descriptions of Sandra's feelings and a few therapies she goes through as well. She was clearly the one you were meant to sympathise with, starting off as a quite tragic figure but by the end I had really warmed to her. Finally, Joss was probably my least favourite character, she seemed too weak to me compared to the other 3 and didn't seem to fit in properly. I got irritated with her quite a lot, and I actually think the book would have been fine without her in it to be honest!
This book was really enjoyable, and I thoroughly loved reading it. In fact, once I got into the story, which didn't take very long at all, I couldn't put it down as I was desperate to find out how it was all going to end! The story had a good momentum, not leaving any part of the story going too long so that reader doesn't get bored, and it was this which kept me reading as much as I did! The book is written in the third person, which works best for this type of story because of the multiple characters, and Harbison's writing style is easy to read and enjoy. For fans of chick-lit, this is definitely a must read, and I would thoroughly recommend you get hold of a copy. This is author Beth Harbison's debut novel, and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future!
ISBN: 978-0099514824. Published by Arrow Books Ltd in August 2008. Paperback contains 336 pages. Available on Amazon for £5.00 (plus postage).
Author's official website: http://www.bethharbison.com/
Thank you for reading!