Confessions of a Shopaholic



Chick-lit fave gets a movie tie-in.
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What parents need to know

Positive messages

Becky lies constantly, whether to avoid looking stupid (pretending she knows something she doesn't), to impress someone (saying she likes something she doesn't), or to dodge her bank and bill collectors (a range of inventions from a broken leg to post-dated checks). She tells a man she needs money to buy a gift for her sick aunt when she really plans to buy a scarf. She lies to her parents, boss, friends, and co-workers. Becky goes out with a man because he's rich, and looks through his checkbook while he is gone from the table (she does, at least, resist taking a check he's written to her to donate to a charity). Working at a clothing shop, Becky refuses to let a customer try on a pair of sale pants that she herself covets (she gets fired, but still asks if she can use the employee discount). Before a big date, she doesn't eat anything all day "so I'm nice and thin."


Not applicable

Becky breaks up with a man who says he doesn't believe in sex before marriage and tells her roommate what happened on their "crucial third date." They start kissing and she reaches for his trouser zipper. "He actually had to punch me in the face to get me off him. . ." When he asks her if she is prepared to wait for him, she tells him she's sure he won't be able to resist her for long. Her roommate calls her a "man-eater" and makes fun of what she suspects is the small size of the man's penis. When a man kisses Becky for the first time, his hands cup her bottom and fingers under her skirt hem. The next morning she is in his bed, feeling "sated" and noting that "God, he really knows how to . . ." She doesn't share any specific details, noting, "Can't you use your imagination?"



Though the British curse words come across as charming ("sodding," "bugger," "shagged," "todger"), there are a few recognized on this side of the Atlantic: "f--k," "s--t," "t-ts," "bitch."


As one might expect, the book is pretty much about shopping. Pages drip with high-end brand names of everything from luggage to clothes to shoes to lotion to perfume. The first thing Becky does is size up what a person is wearing; she comforts herself by shopping. She cares very much about what other people think; "if I buy something from a shop that's a bit uncool, I cut the label out." She compulsively spends a lot of money even when she is deeply in debt. She uses multiple credit cards (mentioned by name, particularly Visa). She tries (sort of) to cut her spending but is unsuccessful. She throws away bills or hides them in a drawer without opening them. She does eventually (sort of) learn to be a bit more responsible, but this is not a didactic tale. She finds an unlikely way to make more money so she can pay her bills; she is not a role model for stay-within-your-budget spending.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There are multiple references to drinking mixed drinks (gin and tonic), champagne, and wine, sometimes in excess. These are adults, however. Looking over her credit card bill, she deems her three bottles of wine "essential." Becky keeps drinking to force herself to be attracted to a rich man she doesn't really like. Neighbors offer her a sherry in the afternoon -- "Never too early for a sherry!" -- and Becky decides they're alcoholics. A minor character smokes and Becky thinks "even though I don't really smoke anymore, I suddenly feel as though I could do with one myself."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, as the title suggests, this book features rampant consumerism; it describes shopping trips the way a chef might wax eloquent about a gourmet meal or an artist rhapsodize about a masterpiece. The main character, Becky, is shallow and self-absorbed, though by the end she's a little less so. There are several references to adults drinking and sex (nothing explicit). It's implied that couples have sex by the third date.

What's the story?

The first in a series, CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC is getting a new marketing push because it's now a movie starring Isla Fisher (out February 2009). Becky Bloomwood is so far in debt she dreads opening her mail, but her answer to everything is to shop. It would be a waste of money not to take advantage of a good sale, right? Her job as a financial reporter for a British magazine called Successful Saving doesn't pay much, so Becky has two choices: stop spending as much money, or find a way to make more. When option one turns out to be a bust, she's determined to increase her fortunes, whether through a second job or a rich husband. She'll show that insufferable-but-handsome Luke Brandon she's not the inconsequential airhead he thinks she is.

Is it any good?


This book is not for readers who don't know Gucci from Prada. Becky's shallow obliviousness can grow tedious after a while, but her funny charm is endearing nonetheless. The many odes to shopping are balanced by hilarious scenes such as a job interview where Becky gets caught for lying on her resume (she says she speaks Finnish -- and it just so happens the company has new Finnish clients they want her to meet!). Asking for realism in a chick-lit novel is like expecting a low-fat eclair -- Becky's solution to her financial problems could only happen in fiction -- but Kinsella keeps Becky grounded enough that readers care even when she's over the top. Teens may not understand all the British financial references, especially in the second half (and indeed, Becky herself barely does, either), but they are crucial to the plot. Knowing the exchange rate for pounds to dollars will help translate Becky's debt into its true horror.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Becky's Scarlett O'Hara ("I'll think about it tomorrow") approach to her looming debt. Why does Becky keep spending money when she knows she shouldn't? Do teens think people can be addicted to shopping? How does Becky use shopping to cope with her emotions? Do teens feel pressured to own certain name-brand clothes or handbags? With banks plying college students with credit-card offers, high school is a great age for parents to share their approach to credit and staying within one's financial means.

Book details

Author:Sophie Kinsella
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dial Books
Publication date:January 1, 2001
Number of pages:312
Publisher's recommended age(s):15 - 17

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Teen, 16 years old Written byKatnissArrow5 March 15, 2014

For Your MATURE 11+ kids..

Talks about Sex a lot :/ so please accompany...But good movie for adults!!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 10 years old January 4, 2010

It's a good show no matter what.

It teaches a lesson that if you lie there are some consequences you have to face and that's important for kids (and adults) to know. But again there are a lot of things to look out for like, drinking, swearing, and stuff like that.
What other families should know
Educational value
Kid, 10 years old May 13, 2011


best book ever
What other families should know
Great messages


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