when people talk about confessions of a shopaholic, the new york times bestseller by sophie kinsella, they usually smile benevolently at her shopping antics, they’ll tell you how hilarious the book is: what a great piece of chicklit!
i’m gonna take a different tack here.
this book is a very clear description of the life of any addict. while the writing is not nearly as good as the widely acclaimed parched, an account of the writer, heather king’s, struggle with the bottle, i think shopaholic is better in showing what an addict experiences. in pretty neon letters.
open the book just about anywhere and you’ll find …
lying: becky, the main character, invents a dying aunt in an attempt to get out of paying a debt to her bank.
self-righteousness: when the bank manager reacts rather coolly to that ploy, becky goes, “has this man got no heart?”
scheming to get something for nothing: becky gets a job at a clothing store. “if only there was some way that i could get all the nice clothes – but not have to do the scary work.”
entitlement: “i should be earning forty grand, like elly, and buying all my clothes at karen millen.”
dejected: “i feel a bit thrown … i don’t have a game plan, i don’t have prospects. maybe i’m hopeless, too. maybe i should rethink my career. oh god, this is depressing.”
self-delusion: becky spends a few days trying to cut back her spending, with disastrous results (e.g., she spends a lot of money on a cute pocket book in which she notes her expenses.) now she decides to Make More Money. “the only small thing – tiny niggle – is, i’m not sure how i’m going to do it … but now i’ve decided to go ahed with it, something will turn up. i’m sure of it.”
and there’s more. the short-lived, desperate attempts to act differently; the excitement when she’s right in the middle of practicing her addiction; the cluelessness she has around people who truly have her best in mind; the need to appear other than who she really is, etc. etc.
it’s like a chicklit version of the stories in the big book, the main book of alcoholics anonymous.
i have to confess that i haven’t had the patience to read all of confessions of a shopaholic but it looks like poor becky never gets it that her life could be easier.
she never gets it that her short-lived moments of excitement could be replaced by deeper, more long-lasting joy; that her superficial, often tense relationships could relax and turn into strong friendships; that her constantly niggling fears could end and she could become a courageous woman; that her nervous self-delusion could make room for insightful self-knowledge.
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