Latest book in series explores pregnancy



Carlos Osorio/TorStar news service


Sophie Kinsella is author of the Shopaholic series of books.


Stella McCartney’s line for Target sold out in 20 minutes in Sydney, Australia, and fist fights broke out at the cash.

Are shoppers out of control?

There could be volumes written on shopping disorders — for instance shopping bulimia: Shop one day, purge the next and many happy returns. Or anorexia: Shopping until the house is full of goods, price tags intact.

Brit author Sophie Kinsella’s four Shopaholic books topped international bestseller lists with recently released No. 5, Shopaholic & Baby, set to follow.

Film rights have been sold to the first, Confessions of a Shopaholic, which introduced lovable spendthrift Becky Bloomwood, a new version of Bridget Jones. But instead of obsessing about the size of her thighs and butt à la Bridget, Becky obsesses about the size of her Visa bill, which she ignores by filing her statements under her bed.

Kinsella is sporting a fabulous Jimmy Choo zebra-striped bag.

Kinsella loves Prada and Marc Jacobs as much as Becky does, but pays her Visa bill. Or rather, Becky pays Kinsella’s Visa.

Fortunately, Kinsella’s heroine Becky is bailed out by her new hubby, public relations magnate Luke Brandon (Shopaholic Ties the Knot) and she is expecting their first child, which necessitates shopping for multiple prams. Why buy one when five is such a lovely number?

“The pram is major for all prospective parents — like the bag, which is the ultimate accessory,” says Kinsella, 37, mother of Oscar, 18 months; Hugo, 9; and Freddy, 10. “A pram costs an awful lot. Easily £500 ($1,140).”

Kinsella has a Stokke — a luxe Danish pram, for baby Oscar.

Becky has other cravings. “She is craving pineapple and a pink cardigan,” says Kinsella. “It’s a medical fact that shopping cures morning sickness. It’s a distraction.”

What about the idea that Becky’s shopping excesses send out a bad message to young women, who are the book’s core audience?

Kinsella says she addresses that issue through Becky’s long-lost sister. “She’s a non-shopper, big time, and Becky has a love-hate relationship with her,” she explains.

“She wants her to reform and buy hemp clothes for the baby. Becky says, `I’m recycling things. I’m turning a wooden spoon into a toy called a Spoony.’ She’s aware but can’t quite live up to the concept.”

Besides, it’s fiction and meant to be entertaining.

“The story won’t inspire people to overshop,” Kinsella insists. “The message is that it’s okay to screw up, just don’t give up and wallow. Try to marry a millionaire — it would help.

“Becky does get into messes and doesn’t get funded. Shop, shop, shop and that’s what happens. See what happens when you hide your bank statements under the bed. She does something about it and doesn’t cop out. She has great intentions and a great sense of humour, is warm and loving, and has great determination and optimism.”

Which is why she is so popular, even if she is so profligate. “She knows what matters in life, even if she gets distracted occasionally. She means no harm.”