It’s mid-afternoon on the first weekend of December, and I’m starting to feel all the stress that this season always brings. Good thing I’m taking some time to enjoy a steaming cup of chai and a delicious Date Bar as I write this post. I’ve even got a kitty on my lap (typing with one hand) and the fireplace channel on to help create a relaxing mood.
Yesterday my Volunteer Book Group met to discuss Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. I’ve never read any books in this series, figuring that they would be too “fluffy” for me, and they are... except sometimes you need a bit of fluff. This book hit the spot after my last book about the Nazi officer’s wife, and while this is last in the series, I think you can read it without knowing what went on in the main character’s life previously. Becky Brandon, née Bloomwood, is living in a cottage in the small British village of Leatherby with her husband Luke and daughter Minnie. Her friend Suze lives nearby and has given Becky a job helping out at the gift shop at Suze’s stately home. It’s Christmas, a season Becky loves. But this year things are going to be a bit different. Becky’s parents have offered their home in nearby Oxshott to her half-sister, Jess, who is coming back from mission work in Chile for a time, and they’ve rented an apartment in a trendy neighbourhood in London. This means that Becky will have to host Christmas for the first time ever, and she is feeling more than a little panicked about it. She wants it to be perfect for everyone, but there seems to be some tension between her parents and their best friends. She also suspects that Jess is having marital problems but can’t pry any details out of her. There's also the fact that Becky’s former boyfriend and hunky rock star just happens to show up at the gift shop asking for her. And how will she ever find that perfect gift for Luke when he claims to only want aftershave? This book was both hilarious and totally unbelievable. Being a huge shopper myself, I could totally empathize with Becky, although she takes shopping to a whole other level! There was a passage I love near the beginning of the book when she is talking about going to London to do her Christmas shopping and she talks about how much she’s missed it, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the whole shopping experience. She says: ”I mean, I’ve shopped online, obviously. But that’s a whole different activity. In fact, they should invent a different word for it. Online ordering isn’t really shopping, it’s “procuring”. You procure stuff online. But you don’t get the buzz of actually stepping into a shop and seeing all the gorgeous stuff, feeling it, stroking it, being seduced by it.” (p 62-63). Just yesterday I ordered a new winter coat online and I thought of these exact words. I wasn’t “seduced” by this coat, I just ordered it out of necessity. I, too, prefer to be seduced by all that retail stores have to offer. My book group didn’t spend much time discussing the book, which brought home the very reason that we don’t read many light, fluffy books for book club - there isn’t much to talk about! We all liked Becky’s spunkiness and ability to stay “up”, even when things look like they aren’t going to work out. We liked her resourcefulness and her ability to create stories on the spot to cover her activities. We enjoyed reading about her antics and agreed that this was much like those Christmas movies that are on tv so much over the holidays. I’ll admit that I shed a tear or two at the emotional ending, and I thought Jess’ idea for environmentally conscious, ethical gifts was brilliant. All in all, I think it was just the type of book we all needed at this point, and I think it also got us thinking about all the things we still have to do before the “big day”, but still with plenty of time to get everything done. I’m curious to read the first book, and would be happy to read the others, just not too many in succession. Maybe I’ll see if Confessions of a Shopaholic is available as an audiobook.
That’s all for today. Stay warm and have a wonderful Sunday afternoon!Bye for now…