Monday, August 20, 2012

Looking for cash in all the wrong places

Book: Shopaholic

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Published: 2001 (Bantam Dell)

Pages: 350

Sigh. I'm not going to get shouty with this review. I feel like I should, because the protagonist is a very stupid woman who thinks her money problems (VISA bills and bank letters) will go away if she literally ignores them and buys more stuff in order to stop buying more stuff. Yeah. Her reasoning is just that sound the whole way through.

But I've been volunteering at a used bookstore, and they wanted their romance section caught up to date. What happens when I spend three hours at a time shelving mass market paperbacks with actual ripped bodices on them (and the highlander plaid, my laird almighty) is that a young professional's adorable financial ruin starts to look almost sensible. 

I bought it with my book credit and started it because I wanted to read something that didn't make me think too much (goal achieved). I kept reading it because she's really good at explaining her impulses, why they feel like needs, why it makes her feel better to shop, and how utterly helpless she feels against them because whenever she tries to face her problems, they get stupid overwhelming and she has to go buy something because it'll make her feel better. Which just keeps the cycle spinning and makes her feel even more helpless. The leaky pipe in my apartment bathroom made me feel that same "I've no idea what to do, so let's...ignore it and hope it goes away? Sure!" 

Both of us were stupid for not immediately going to someone who would probably know and asking "How do I fix this? How do YOU help me fix this if it's too much for just me?" And both of us got our deux-ex-machina endings in time to not drown.

For the Shopaholic, her "career" as a financial journalist (and she's the one that's snide about it, frank about the part where all she really does is attend press conferences, copy stuff off PR material from banks her magazine does advertising business with, and balk at giving actual advice that might affect someone's real-time green money) gets her on a TV show after she write her one and only legit story , about how a bank merger tricked their customers to switching before they could get a payoff. 

Even that story is printed in a tabloid, with the facts and quote massaging that implies. Anyway, on air she manages to start pulling out all the finance talk she's subliminally absorbed through halfway sort of paying attention at her job, and so she gets a regular TV advice gig that pays enough to get out of debt free. Whee! Oh and while all this is going down, she's dodging her flatmate's cousin's advances and unwittingly (very skeptical "uh huh" goes right about here) hurtling towards the rich billionaire she's been locking horns with the whole time.

Me, I just answered the knock on my door and it turned out it was my building's matenince trying to find a leak and tracing it to my apartment before I could convince myself to put my big-girl tenant pants on and go ask to get it fixed before I have to pay my next rent. 

Both endings were much easier than either of us deserved. Except there are like four more Shopaholic-themed sequels, which I am definitely not reading because I'm sure they're filled with enough manufactured drama to pull us both back under again.

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