Sunday 25 September 2016

Shopaholic returns with a wild road trip to Las Vegas

Fiction: Shopaholic to the Rescue, Sophie Kinsella, Black Swan, €10.99

Anne Marie Scanlon

Published 11/04/2016 | 02:30

Shopaholic to the rescue by Sophie Kinsella.
Shopaholic to the rescue by Sophie Kinsella.

The Shopaholic is back - words that might inspire both joy and terror in the most ardent of Sophie Kinsella's fans. It's 15 long years since spendthrift Becky Bloomwood charmed readers and critics alike in Confessions of a Shopaholic. Since then there have been many sequels that have both pained and delighted fans. (Let's not even mention Shopaholic and Sister).

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In Shopaholic to the Rescue Becky is now married to hunky Luke Brandon, has a two-year-old daughter Minnie and is based in LA. Becky along with husband, child and a cast worthy of Ben Hur (Becky's mum, her mum's best friend, Becky's best friend Suze, her worst enemy Alicia Bitch Long Legs and Danny, a top fashion designer, who despite being so in demand, can just take off on a whim apparently) have taken to the road in an RV (Recreational Vehicle) to track down her father who has departed on a mysterious quest along with Suze's husband Tarquin.

En route they encounter many many more characters and there are various plots involved and none of them bear too much scrutiny least of all the fact that Becky can no longer bear to shop. Becky is feeling guilty, unworthy and introspective and not a word of it is convincing. Her child Minnie is also the best behaved tot - she spends miles upon miles on US highways in a vehicle stuffed with adults and never a cross word, a tantrum or an 'accident' of some sort.

However, the most fanatical of Kinsella's devotees and anyone who can suspend disbelief for an extended period of time might well enjoy it. The descriptions of the lovely hot places the crew visit like Las Vegas and Sedona are just the tonic for rain-sodden Irish readers. And Kinsella, despite some of the plot limitations, is very funny. Her digs at New Ageiness fall short of satire but they're still good for a giggle. "Wow. I didn't realise Sedona had age-old vortexes. Let alone mystic forces I glance around the hotel lobby, half-hoping to see evidence of a mystic force, but all I can see in an old lady tapping at her iPad. Maybe you have to go outside." Both the road trip and the adventure conclude with an Ocean's Eleven style 'heist' at the Bellagio. Fun but frustrating.

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