Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) has stars in her eyes. She and her daughter, Minnie, have joined husband Luke in LA—city of herbal smoothies, multimillion-dollar yoga retreats, and the lure of celebrity. Luke is there to help manage the career of famous actress Sage Seymour—and Becky is convinced she is destined to be Sage’s personal stylist, and go from there to every A-list celebrity in Hollywood! But things become complicated when Becky joins the team of Sage’s archrival. How will charming and supportive Luke deal with this conflict? Is it possible that what Becky wants most will end up hurting those she loves most?
Tell Me More: Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) is a charmer, no doubt about that. But seven books later, her charm is much harder to remember as she continues to make ever more baffling choices, and Shopaholic to the Stars is unable to make sense of them.
My reading experience with the Shopaholic series was nothing if not enjoyable: I breezed through the first six books in a matter of weeks and had a lot of fun doing it. Becky’s foibles were entertaining, and never quite so dire that a solution would be impossible. Whatever concerns I had for her character development were offset by seeing how she interacted and learned from the people around her.
The narrative and character problems in Stars were too many to ignore, however. Becky’s characterization seems to have taken a dozen steps back at the start of the novel, and it only gets worse from there. The Becky we know, with her old mistakes behind her and a grounded gravity to her choices, quickly disappears. She’s replaced by a caricature of the Becky we meet in the first book. The change is shocking because it doesn’t make sense. Yes, Becky Bloomwood loves glamour and glitz, and she enjoys having everyone love and admire her. But she’s also grown enough in the previous books that bringing these desires and weaknesses back feels like a rehashing of issues already done, and done in smarter ways.
Reading this book was difficult because it felt like a vital part of Becky was lost, and it’s her character that drives the series. And one might counter that that is the point and the conflict in this installment, but again, what was it for? To prove that Luke is a great guy? We knew that from the moment he brought up the scarf. To prove that Becky’s family loves and supports her? If they didn’t, Confessions of a Shopaholic would have been a far shorter novel. To prove that Suze and Becky’s friendship is unique and wonderful for both of them? Seen again and again in every single book. What does this story add to Becky’s character growth? It’s been months since I read this novel, and I still don’t know.
The Final Say: Ardent fans of the Shopaholic series may want to think twice about continuing Becky’s story–Shopaholic to the Stars neither changes nor improves anything after six more vibrant novels.
Madeleine Wickham is a bestselling British author under her pseudonym, Sophie Kinsella. Educated at New College, Oxford, she worked as a financial journalist before turning to fiction. She is best known for writing a popular series of chick-lit novels.