The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic
This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages)(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Genre||Comedy, Chick lit|
|Followed by||Shopaholic Abroad|
The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic (2000) (Confessions of a Shopaholic in the United States and India) is the first in the popular Shopaholic series. It is a chick-lit novel by Sophie Kinsella, a pen-name of Madeleine Wickham. It focuses on the main character Rebecca (Becky) Bloomwood, a financial journalist, who is in a serious amount of debt through her shopping addiction.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (April 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
Rebecca Bloomwood lives in a flat in fashionable Fulham, London, that is owned by her best friend Suze's wealthy, aristocratic parents. Becky works as a financial journalist for the magazine Successful Savings, a job she dislikes.  Becky admits to knowing very little about personal finance, and is thousands of pounds in debt due to her uncontrollable spending on designer homeware, clothes and beauty products. The book emphasises that her cycle of debt is not easily broken, as, even as she is thousands of pounds in debt, Becky still receives letters offering her credit and department store cards. She often rationalises her overspending, for instance by referring to items as an 'investment' or necessary. Unfortunately for Becky, she considers things such as birthday presents for her friends as necessary.
On her way to a press conference held by Brandon Communications, Becky notices a sale sign in the window of the Denny and George shop. She sees that the scarf she has long craved for is on sale at a discount of 50%. Becky sees this as a unique opportunity but realises that she has left her Visa card at the office and asks the shop assistant to reserve the scarf until she can retrieve her credit card. The assistant reluctantly agrees to hold it until the end of the day only.
Upon arriving at the press conference, she is greeted by a staff member of Brandon Communications, who mentions that there's been some surprising news in the banking field and asks Becky her opinion on the news. Becky has no idea what the woman is referring to and has to feign knowledge. After the staffer leaves, Luke Brandon, head of Brandon Communications, realising that she was feigning knowledge of what was happening, tells her that one financial group recently bought another, and it was recently rumoured that Flagstaff Life was going the same way.
Halfway through the conference Becky is given another errand by her employer and realises that she will not have time to return to the office for her credit card, but only needs twenty pounds more to buy her Denny & George scarf. She asks her friend Elly Granger if she can borrow some money, but Elly has none. Luke hears Becky ask for twenty pounds, and stops the whole Press Conference just so he can hand a twenty-pound note to her, once she has made up a story of needing the money to buy a present for her aunt who is in hospital. Right after she has bought the Denny & George scarf she bumps into Luke Brandon and has to make excuses to leave, before he finds out that she's lied.
Later on during the week, Becky's flatmate Suze asks her to go to a restaurant with her and her cousins, including Tarquin. There, Becky sees Luke and his parents having dinner. The mother comments on Becky's scarf, and she blabs about getting it as a bargain. Then she realises her mistake, and abruptly tells a suspicious Luke that her aunt died. Becky is mortified.
Luke runs into Becky after that and asks her to come shopping with him at Harrods. Initially she enjoys shopping with him for luggage, helping Luke choose the best purchase. After he reveals that the luggage is actually for his girlfriend, Sacha, Becky is very upset, telling Luke that she feels he's used her and not treated her with respect.
Throughout the story, a man named Derek Smeath, who is the manager of Becky's bank, is constantly trying to get hold of her so he can set up a re-payment schedule for her overdraft. Becky always has some excuse as to why she cannot send a cheque or meet with Mr. Smeath and his assistant, Erica. The excuses range from a broken leg, a dead aunt, etc., etc., until it becomes obvious to Mr. Smeath that Becky is unable to repay the overdraft. He becomes quite insistent upon setting up a meeting with her.
Suze and Becky happen to be flicking through a magazine and see a list of eligible millionaires, which includes Tarquin and Luke Brandon. Tarquin asks Becky out, and compliments Becky on her scarf. She continues the pretense that it is from her deceased aunt, and claims her aunt had set up a charity for children abroad to be given violin teachers. Tarquin writes out a cheque for £5000, which would solve Becky's financial problems, but she refuses. While Tarquin goes to the bathroom, Becky sneaks a look at his chequebook, and is unimpressed by the content. Tarquin returns and Becky is sure he saw her looking at the chequebook. Becky gives up trying to date Tarquin, as he is just not her type, even if he is very rich.
Unable to come up with any more excuses to avoid meeting the bank manager, Becky goes back home to hide at her parents' house, telling them the bank manager is a stalker. Becky learns that her next door neighbours made a financial decision based on advice that Becky had absentmindedly given them and stand to miss out on thousands of pounds in a windfall resulting from a bank takeover. Becky is horrified by being partly culpable and sets out to make things right by writing an article that exposes the bank's duplicity. The article is a success, and leads to Becky appearing on a daytime television show, The Morning Coffee. Unfortunately, Becky did not know that the bank was a client of Luke Brandon's PR firm. Luke is angry with her, believing she wrote the article just to get back at him for treating her poorly. Becky and Luke square off during her appearance on The Morning Coffee. After arguing with Becky, Luke concedes that she was right, and announces that Brandon Communications will no longer be representing that bank. Becky gets a regular slot on the show.
Luke invites Becky out for a seeming business dinner at the Ritz Hotel. When Becky arrives at their meeting, business is not on the agenda and instead they eat their fill of the food and end up spending the night at the Ritz together. Becky has to miss yet another meeting arranged with her bank manager, but he writes and tells her this can be postponed, as due to her regular slot on television, her finances are now rosy. But the bank manager, Derek Smeath, will continue to keep an eye on her account.
The earlier novels in the series received a generally positive reception from critics.
One review considered it to be clever that Kinsella begins each chapter with an ominous letter to Becky from her bank.
Readers seemed to like Becky, care about what was happening to her, as if for a friend. While she has faults, she is 'irresistibly daft. ' When it comes to reviewing this book, many agree that Sophie Kinsella has managed to combine two essential ingredients that make for a favourite among readers: abundant flashes of reality and a witty sense of humour. Women identified with the character and her situation. Reviews encouraged readers to 'stick to' these earlier books in the series, considering them better than the later books which appeared to have been written excessively quickly, although they would still satisfy those already faithful to the series.
The Shopahoclic series as of October, 2014 consists of seven novels, in order:
- The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic (2000) also published as Confessions of a Shopaholic (2001)
- Shopaholic Abroad (2001) also published as Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (2002)
- Shopaholic Ties the Knot (2002)
- Shopaholic and Sister (2004)
- Shopaholic and Baby (2007)
- Mini Shopaholic (2010)
- Shopaholic to the Stars (2014)
- Shopaholic to the rescue (2015)
- http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-2101974_ITM Archived 22 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
- http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-11724746_ITM Archived 20 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- https://web.archive.org/web/20090120130446/http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-29781649_ITM. Archived from the original on 20 January 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2008. Missing or empty
- https://web.archive.org/web/20090120130415/http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-22829632_ITM. Archived from the original on 20 January 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2008. Missing or empty
- [dead link]