Tuesday, January 23, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Shopper shares some insight on a shopaholic

By Samantha Critchell
Associated Press

"Confessions of a Shopaholic" is fiction.

Author Sophie Kinsella, whose real name is Madeline Wickham, insists she is not the credit card-wielding, overdraft-protected Rebecca Bloomwood who shops until she almost drops in the new book published by Delta Trade Paperback.

"But you do write about what you know," Kinsella said with a laugh. "I’m a shopper, not a shopaholic."

When she worked as a financial journalist, she would race out to lunch from the office to visit the stores and often came back with a package or two.

This past summer, Kinsella, now a full-time writer, confesses to devoting a lot of time searching for the perfect handkerchief skirt and flip-flop shoes with flowers. As soon as her mission was accomplished, the calendar flipped to Sept. 1, and the shopping frenzy began again with camel-hair tweed items topping her must-have list.

With the beautiful music that is being piped into shops, the comfortable chairs that dot selling floors and the free gifts tucked into bags, Kinsella said, touring the stores has become a leisure activity.

And, shopping is also a tool for women to bond, she rationalizes aloud during a phone interview. Instead of just sitting down and chatting, women can shop and chat at the same time - and therefore, they are accomplishing something.

Now that she works at home, Kinsella laments that her workday wardrobe has been reduced to black turtlenecks and black slacks. To make up for that daily-drudge outfit, she gets all dolled up for any appointment in the outside world.

Kinsella, 31, now lives in Surrey, England. She recently moved with her family to the country from London - and she is suffering withdrawal symptoms.

"It’s good for writing," she said. "There are no distractions, but I’ve been forced to start browsing antique stores."

To go to a trendy boutique, she’d have to drive at least 10 minutes!

Kinsella has to go much farther to get to her new favorite shopping city, New York. She visited the Big Apple in December and was impressed with the effort that the stores put in to make shopping a theatrical experience. She also rates London, Washington and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as top shopping destinations.

There is a little bit of "Shopaholic’s" Rebecca in all women, Kinsella said. It’s a natural desire to have beautiful things, she adds. "The best moment for women is when you clutch a full shopping bag full of lovely new things."

Men, however, just don’t understand the beauty and art of shopping; for them, it’s all about the research that goes into an expensive electronic purchase, Kinsella said.

A woman’s shopping memory is short, she said. They shop one week and then the next, and sometimes they don’t even remember what they purchased or that they have a similar item in their closet.

"Women are promiscuous shoppers. Men are more monogamous. They can keep the same jacket for years."

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