Sophie Kinsella, Author . Dial $23 (368p) ISBN 978-0-385-33809-7

Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) returns with a vengeance in bestseller Kinsella's fourth Shopaholic novel. Her 10-month globe-trot with hubby Luke was a shopping spree disguised as a honeymoon—heck, Becky will walk across hot coals for an aquamarine necklace (and thereby trick her Sri Lankan yogi into thinking she's achieved enlightenment)—but the problems of the real world (sort of) surface once the happy couple lands back in London. ("Luke's penthouse has its own lift right to the front door, which is just so cool!"). Even lovely Luke's patience is supremely tried when those two truckloads of purchases show up. What's worse: Becky's best friend, Suze, has found a new best friend, and her parents have discovered another daughter. Seems Dad had a fling with a train stewardess back in the 1970s—and Jessica was the result. Becky is over the moon, picturing heart-to-heart talks, shopping excursions, sisters' nights out and so forth—so she's totally unprepared for the actual Jessica, a frugal environmentalist who (gasp!) actually hates shopping. Prattling Becky tries to charm her sis, but it doesn't seem to be working; meanwhile, Luke is preoccupied with his job, and then there's that stranger from Milan whom Becky owes for getting her that impossibly perfect Angel bag... what does he want with Luke? Of course everything will work out in the end—and there will be a nice message about the importance of friends and family—but this installment isn't as winning as its predecessors. Agents, Kim Witherspoon (U.S.) and Araminta Whitley (U.K.). (Sept. 28)

Forecast: There are more than three million Shopaholic books in print, and tiring though the materialism grows, this latest addition should see Kinsella's usual numbers.

Reviewed on: 08/30/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
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