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The Secret Shopper’s Revenge by Kate Harrison (final thoughts)

April 27, 2010

Emily imagined that life in London would be all glamour – the perfect husband, the perfect little baby, and the perfect accessories from the perfect shops. Instead, mere months after the big move she finds herself a single mom living in a rundown neighborhood, and the sales assistants in those fancy shops only make her feel worse about it.

Sandie has given her life to create the perfect shopping experience. After years of hard work, proving her worth at the department store of her dreams, everything comes crashing down when she is framed for theft.

Grazia spent her life as a muse and support to her artist husband. But when he suddenly dies, she quickly finds out that Inspiration does not pay the bills.

All three women are pretty well out of options when they are recruited by the mysterious Charlie. They’re an unlikely team, but they turn out to be the perfect candidates for Charlie’s Secret Shopping Angles.

Before I go any further, let’s talk a little about the cover. Honestly, I was immediately drawn to it and it’s one of the main reasons I bought it. But after carrying it around for a few days, I began to feel it’s chick-lit-ness was a little too much. What you can’t see in this picture is that the ribbons framing the title are full of glitter. And they’re on the back as well. I was a little bit embarrassed to take it out of my bag on the train. While The Secret Shopper’s Revenge isn’t a super deep book, I don’t think it’s quite as fluffy as the cover makes it out to be. But hey, I’m proof that covers like this sell.

So, now let’s talk about the story. The point of view alternates between Emily, Sandie, and Grazie, each telling their story of how they came to be secret shoppers. Multiple POVs can be tricky, but are fantastic when they’re done right. Harrison pulls it off pretty well. Each of the women have their own unique voice, although there were a couple times where I couldn’t remember if I was reading Emily or Sandie. One thing I love about multiple POVs is watching the stories come together. This was one of my favourite aspects of The Secret Shopper’s Revenge. Each of the women start off being completely separate and even skeptical of the others, but slowly start opening up until their stories become intertwined.

And then there was the fun of shopping and catching sales assistants out. This provided for a lot great moments, many that I think only British chick lit can get away with. Oh how I love British chick lit! I liked, though, how Harrison balanced the frivolity of shopping with something more serious that each of the three women had to deal with. A nasty divorce, death of a loved one, unable to fulfill someone else’s expectations.

Even though The Secret Shopper’s Revenge had all these qualities that usually spell HIT with me, the overall effect was just okay. It really was a fun book, and would make a good vacation read, but it just wasn’t as great as I was hoping it would be. I enjoyed reading about their secret shopping escapades, but couldn’t become invested in any of the characters. I would, however, recommend this book to any fans of chick lit, especially British chick lit.

My rating: 7/10

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2010 9:04 pm

    i have been known to knock back a brit-chick-lit book or two in my day but don’t think this is the one for me. the idea is original but from your review i can tell it’s more of a pool-read (not a bad thing, but it’s not quite summer here! ) i’m sure it was a fun and zippy read but i think i’ll stick with b.jones and m. darcy! lol.

  2. April 28, 2010 11:38 am

    I really think this book sounds yummy and I just bought more than one book to read so I am in the challenge…

  3. April 28, 2010 4:13 pm

    Sounds like a fun summer read! :)

  4. April 29, 2010 10:24 am

    Looks like a cute one! Great review.

  5. April 29, 2010 11:24 am

    Great review!

    BTW, I can’t wait to see what you make of Agatha :)

  6. April 29, 2010 2:09 pm

    Oh boy, I love British chick lit so intensely! Definitely sounds like something I would enjoy, and I’m with you on the cover… a bit over-the-top in terms of girliness (and this coming from someone who waxes philosophical about pink all day).

    I will say this, though: chick lit covers in the UK usually follow this sort of standard or formula, while US covers vary wildly (and usually feature a real, live model or two). In my extensive perusing of the women’s fiction genre and my obsession with all things British, I’ve noticed that the covers of books overseas are always more “cartoonish” or artsy, with handdrawn art, while those on this side of the pond are more “realistic” (I guess). I’m sure lots of other people have discussed this much more intelligently than I am right now! :)

  7. May 2, 2010 10:22 am

    K, I fully admit by the blurb and cover I’d probably not necessarily go for this one, although the cover certainly caught my eye. However, your review piqued my interest. I am sad to hear that the overall effect wasn’t didn’t quite live up to all the great individual qualities the book had.

    I’ll definitely be looking into this though =) Thanks.

  8. stacybuckeye permalink
    May 4, 2010 4:57 pm

    Looks like Charlie’s Angels for shoppers :)

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