Byline: David Caplan
NEW YORK — Unlike Becky Bloomwood, the debt-accruing clotheshorse in Sophie Kinsella’s novel, “Shopaholic Takes Manhattan,” Kinsella’s passion for fashion has not generated terse letters from banks refusing to increase credit limits nor has she ever had to rummage off her designer wardrobe to pay her bills.
“I’m not a shopaholic — I call myself a shopper, which is different,” says Kinsella, a pseudonym for Madeleine Wickham, in a telephone interview from her home in Surrey, England. “I love to shop but I don’t put myself in the kind of trouble that Becky puts herself in.”
“Shopaholic Takes Manhattan,” released last month in the U.S. by Random House’s Delta division, is the second book by Kinsella that comically chronicles the hectic life of twentysomething London financial journalist Becky Bloomwood. (The first book, “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” was released in February 2001.)
Coincidentally, the 32-year-old Kinsella is also a former financial reporter; she previously worked as an editor at a defunct Financial Times-published magazine called Resident Abroad and has also written for The Times of London and The Daily Mail. Despite the similarities — both financial journalists who adore shopping — Kinsella says Becky is a fictional character who shares a “similar outlook, but is a lot more extreme.”
In “Shopaholic Takes Manhattan,” Becky travels to New York with her power-publicist boyfriend, who attempts to open a Gotham satellite of his London firm. While in New York, Becky makes the retail rounds, scouring the boutiques and department stores of SoHo, NoLIta, Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue for fashionable finds.
Like Becky — who throughout the book’s 325 pages dons pieces by Moschino, Tocca, Vera Wang and Gucci — Kinsella admits she tends to be a bit manic when it comes to her attire.
“I have a completely schizophrenic wardrobe,” says Kinsella, who lists Miu Miu, Paul Smith and Karen Millen as favorites. “The trouble with me is I put on a nice outfit, I start to think about it and obsess about it, like, ‘Are these shoes right?’ When I’m writing, I put on a black polo neck and black trousers. When I go out, I react against that, so I’m really big into color at the moment. It’s like, ‘I’m out, I’m free, look at me.”‘
Kinsella says she approached “shopaholicism” from a purely comical point of view, even though it is a serious issue. “I was a bit worried, because people genuinely are in trouble, but really, it’s just entertainment,” she says. “It’s funny that people who wouldn’t say that they were an alcoholic, will say with a laugh, ‘Oh I’m a shopaholic.”‘
The third book in the series, “Shopaholic Ties The Knot,” is slated to be released in the U.K. in the summer and subsequently in the U.S.
“Researching that was so much fun,” says Kinsella, who has been married for 10 years. “I actually went to Vera Wang and told them I was a bride and tried on all of the dresses.”