It’s time to review another book for the Chick Lit Challenge. This time I’m discussing Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.
Nothing comes between Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) and her bargains. Neither act of God nor budget crunch can shatter her dreams of wall-to-wall Prada. Every milestone in her well-shopped life (travel, long-lost sister, marriage, pregnancy) inspires new vistas to explore in the name of retail therapy. But now she faces her greatest little challenge yet: Becky’s two-year-old daughter, Minnie.
While motherhood has been everything Becky dreamed it would be—Baby Dior, Little Marc Jacobs, and Dolce & Gabbana for toddlers—adorable Minnie is wreaking havoc everywhere she goes, from Harrods to her own christening. Her favorite word is “MINE!” and her penchant for Balenciaga bags, Chanel sunglasses, and online purchases has no rival under age five.
Becky is at her wits end. On top of this, she and her husband Luke are still living with her parents. Thankfully it appears house buying attempt number four is a go! Until a huge financial crisis causes panic everywhere, and nobody wants to shop—not Becky’s personal shopping clientele, not her friends, nobody. And with Luke in the doldrums, it’s time for Becky to step in—with a party: A surprise birthday party for Luke (on a budget) is the perfect antidote to everyone’s woes. At first.
Will Becky manage to keep the party of the year a surprise? Can she hire jugglers, fire-eaters, and acrobats at a discount? Will enlisting the help of Luke’s unflappable assistant to convince him to have another baby realize her dream of matching pom-poms? Will Minnie find a new outlet for her energetic and spirited nature (perhaps one with sixty percent markdowns)? She is, after all, a chip off the old shopping block. And everyone knows a committed shopper always finds a way.
Sophie Kinsella has written six books in her Shopaholic Series. The first three books were cute and endearing. Becky’s various dramas and inability to save money were amusing. Her skill at finding a way to fix everything at the last minute had you rooting for her throughout the story. I found these books to be quite enjoyable.
The last two books in the series were a different story. Becky showed little growth as a character. Her antics–which started off as funny–became repetitive. When I’m reading a story, I hope to see the main character grow and change; something Becky seems unable to do. Her lack of growth led to books that felt repetitive and formulaic.
This disappointing pattern is not broken in Mini Shopaholic. The only difference in Becky’s latest adventure is the addition of a two-year-old accomplice. Becky is now able to excuse her shopping habits by passing them off as her daughter’s. This small addition is not enough to make the plot interesting. I struggled to get through the first half of the book. I kept hoping that the “How does Becky get herself out of trouble this time” storyline was enough to continue reading. Luckily it was worth the wait.
The first half of this book was mostly a tale of self-indulgence and reckless behavior. By contrast, the second half was interesting and moving. I enjoyed how the relationship between Luke and his estranged mother was explored. This story grabbed my attention and made me want to keep reading. The storyline did not entirely save the book, but made me glad I stuck with it.
As always, the book ended as a setup for another addition in the Shopaholic series. I would be interested in reading this next book to see what is in store for Luke and his mother. Unfortunately I feel this followup story will again focus primarily on Becky and her flighty tendencies. I would have hoped by now that she had learned something, but clearly not. Perhaps the next tale will be the one in which we finally see Becky grow as a character.
Review: I feel as if this book would be more enjoyable to someone unfamiliar with the series. As a standalone story, the plot is interesting. As part of a series, it feels recycled. There are only so many times I can read about Becky’s repeated mistakes before I start wondering why she has yet to learn anything. For fans of the series, I suggest this as a library read. It is OK but not worth the $13.50 purchase price.