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Saturday, December 7, 2019


(Sophie Kinsella’s book is eminently readable, as she has a smooth, flowing style and wonderfully descriptive talent. Review by Barry Meehan)

It was only when I got to the end of this highly-entertaining novel by best-selling author Sophie Kinsella that I was made aware that Christmas Shopaholic is the ninth in her Shopaholic series, featuring Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood), shopper extraordinaire. Here’s the thing – if you haven’t read any of the others, you don’t need to rush out and buy the previous eight (or order them online, as I suspect Becky herself would have done) to enjoy this episode to the full. Christmas Shopaholic stands on its own, with not a single question necessary as to Becky’s past.

Becky’s Christmases (which she loves) have always been deeply traditional family events at her parents’ house with all the festive accoutrements – a beautifully-decorated tree, carols being sung, presents all round, roast turkey and stuffing, Christmas pudding and sherry – with a visit from her parents’ neighbours and best friends, who always appear in ghastly festive jumpers.

This year, everything is scheduled to be the same, until Becky’s parents drop their bombshell – they are moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch to change their lifestyle, and the Christmas dinner baton is passed to Becky to carry on the tradition as hostess. The question is asked – “What could possibly go wrong?”

The answer – just about everything! Becky faces a barrage of challenges, including:

- a vegan turkey
- 30 pounds of fresh salmon
- three kinds of stuffing for the turkey (plus falafel)
- re-gifting and words instead of presents
- joining a men-only billiards club
- the choice of aftershave for her husband
- her daughter’s Christmas play costume
- a dishy ex-boyfriend from her college days and his forceful new girlfriend, who refuses to take no for an answer
- an impossible-to-find bauble for the tree

 and much more!

The by-line for this very funny adventure is “Don’t panic. It’s only Christmas.” For normal people, that would be good advice. For Becky, it’s impossible not to panic as layer upon layer of misfortune heads her way, some incidents self-inflicted through her chaotic shopping trips and on-line purchases, and some totally accidental, although they could only happen to her.

Sophie Kinsella’s book is eminently readable, as she has a smooth, flowing style and wonderfully descriptive talent. Above all it is funny, laugh-out-loud stuff, especially the items included before some of the chapters – emails, WhatsApp messages etc, which tell a story all of their own.

Christmas Shopaholic is hugely recommended as an easy read if you need a good laugh in your life – and who doesn’t!

Published by Bantam Press. ISBN#: 9781787631977.  RRP: R290.00 – Barry Meehan