About the author
Beth Harbison was born and raised in Potomac, Maryland, in the shadow of Washington. Despite the fame of his hometown, he is not interested in politics. He received his BA in London and his MA at the University of Maryland.
“ Shoppers Anonymous Club” is her first novel, before which she wrote four cookbooks and twenty-two romance stories. The Shopaholics Anonymous Club hit the New York Times bestseller list upon its release and has been sold in fourteen languages to date. Not long after, it was followed by Secrets of a Shopaholic.
Critics have compared Shopaholics Anonymous to Sophie Kinsella's Becky B series and Lauren Weisberger's The Devil Wears Prada.
Beth currently lives in her hometown with her husband, two children, and her dogs. In her free time, she enjoys watching reality shows and listening to music.
About the book
Four radically different women. Four shopaholics who wear shoes number thirty-seven. And a club to share the shopping addiction.
Helen is married to Senator Jim Zacharis with presidential ambitions. All she is required to do is look stunning and keep her mouth shut. Political speeches bore her to death and she found relief in shopping for expensive designer shoes.
Waitress Lorna is addicted to shopping for luxury shoes she can't afford. Soon the young woman finds herself mired in debt, but she dares to admit her problem and seek help.
As a hotline operator, nondescript Sandra earns enough for the most sophisticated designer couples. Sandra suffers from agoraphobia and does not dare to leave the safe walls of her home, so she shops online.
Nanny Jocelyn doesn't share their shared passion for shoes, but she desperately needs a hobby and friends. As well as any entertainment that could take her away even for a moment from her hysterical boss.
The four women meet at the Shopaholics Anonymous Club every Tuesday to exchange shoes and experiences. Among the models from the latest collection of Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo, they share their frustrations, fears and dreams. And they find a way to each other.
Later she was going to sleep because she turned off her phone.
She leaned back in the leather armchair in the shoe department of Ormonds - her reward for her two-hour meeting with Nancy Cabot - and began to run through her mind the thought of her husband's anger as she had only moments before twirling the jewelry she had decided to buy between her fingers.
He hated when he couldn't contact her.
She, for her part, hated when she was able to find her. And lately this has been happening more and more often. No matter where she was or what she was doing, her phone always seemed to ring at the most inopportune moment.
One time, when she was loaded with canned foods from the Greek Orthodox Church for one of the public dining halls, she stopped for a moment to admire the serene beauty of the new stained glass window depicting the Annunciation. At that moment, her phone rang.
Another time, while barely balancing paper packets full of eco-friendly products – the only ones Jim had been consuming lately, succumbing to another fad, he was holding his purse and keys at the same time and trying to cross the long driveway to the front door, her phone rang again. As it was set to vibrate, the unexpected movement startled her so much that she dropped the bag of eggs.
She was once serving freshly microwaved homemade chicken soup to a bedridden patient in the hospital when her cell phone again made her jump so that she poured the broth over the patient and which in this case was not so important - your new patent leather shoes.
Even today, during her lunch with Nancy, Jim called her, increasing the number of pointless conversations from one to two, only to tell her he had a late meeting and wouldn't be home for dinner, so there was no point in waiting for him.
Nancy had remarked several times how nice of him to bother to let her know. But she didn't speak Jim's language, so she had no idea that a late meeting meant she'd come home smelling of martinis and someone else's perfume.
It was worth studying the Hypocrisy section of psychology.
Jim Zacharis (his first name was Demetrius, but he decided it sounded too ethnic for an American politician) was a charismatic junior senator from Maryland, but he was preparing for an aggressive push for higher office. In a city like Washington, anything a political figure or his wife did had to be sincere, and he didn't want Helen to expose it.
Yes, like many other brilliant but stupid men, he naively believed that his own transgressions remained invisible, while at the same time worrying about what his wife was doing while she was out in public.
Since she got married, she had never given the slightest cause for scandal. No casual dating at the pool, no lesbian stories…nothing.
Which didn't mean he didn't have his secrets. But she kept them buried deep within her.
Meanwhile, she had already made a deal on her wedding day, when she was too naive to realize the price. It wasn't about her life as a we althy housewife, it was about something much worse. It was a trophy of sorts, obliging her to always look good, occasionally participate in charity events, occasionally lunch with the other high society ladies at the club, sponsor various events, and-most important of all- keeping her mouth shut as her soul fell apart.
And she had become disturbingly good at all these pretenses.
She was pulled out of her thoughts by someone's cheerful, cheerful voice. He turned to see Susie Howell, the president of the city council, accompanied by her daughter.
– You remember Lucy, right? Susie said, pointing to the teenage girl with a puffy face and matted hair, discolored by frequent use of the strong dyes available in the stores lately.
The girl looked completely out of place in the expensive Ormonds department store, and strangely, she was obviously aware of it.
– Yes, of course. - Helen had forgotten the daughter's name and was grateful that the mother mentioned it herself. – How are you, Lucy?
“She's very well,” Susie interrupted, giving her a look that could have been much more expressive if her face hadn't been stiffened by so much botox. - She was actually accepted to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. You were there, right?
Oh no. This was not the conversation Helen wanted to have. At least now that she was still giddy from lunch with Nancy Cabot.
“Of course,” she replied, hoping the two of them wouldn't smell the champagne on her breath. Then, since mother and daughter probably knew a lot more about the place than she did, she added, “I've been while studying at the college.
– Ah, so you didn't finish your education in "Miami"?
– Nope. I used to visit it in my school years. A century ago.
– Look, Susie muttered disappointedly. – In that case, where did you graduate?
Helen thought she should take notes about her fictional story.
– At Marshall University – she answered because David Price had studied there and she had visited often enough to know his campus well.
David Price, the love of her life, until she decided he deserved more and left him.
And she really got exactly what she deserved.
– Located in West Virginia – he finished, feeling the melancholy in his own voice.
– West Virginia! Susie looked at her as if she had just told her that she studied somewhere in a Third World country. - Dear God, how did a well-mannered girl from Ohio end up there?
– A relevant question – replied Helen with a smile.
“I don't want to go to West Virginia,” she snorted at her mother, Lucy, without even a hint of apology that she might affect the other woman in this way.
This was the attitude towards West Virginia of the native people, still clinging to the rigid understanding that only toothless natives lived there who married their cousins.
Susie laughed at her daughter's remark, making it painfully clear that she shared her disdain for such a possibility.
– Don't worry honey, you won't have to. - Then he turned to Helen with a beaming smile: - Would you write a letter of recommendation for my daughter? I mean, to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
– With pleasure. – What else could she answer? Nothing. Her job was only to say yes. "But," he added quickly, "perhaps Jim's recommendation will carry more weight?"
A joyful glow lit up Susie's eyes.
– Do you think he'll agree to do it for us? – It was quite clear that this was what she had in mind from the beginning, so Helen had nothing to worry about.
– Oh sure. "He'd do anything as long as his name got around." He often had to put his signature on documents whose contents he had no connection with.
Like under their marriage certificate for example.
– I'll tell his secretary to call you, she promised.
– Thank you very much Helen. Susie elbowed her daughter in the ribs. – Right? Isn't that very kind of Mrs. Zaharis?
– Thank you, the girl repeated evenly.
– You're welcome, Helen replied with her kindest smile.
As she watched them walk away, Helen thought about how her life had been filled with such fake relationships lately. People only wanted to use her as a connection to the powerful of the day, but that didn't bother her because her husband took every opportunity to increase his own power. And she made a deal a long, long time ago that she would pay the price of the game in return for financial comfort.
That satisfied everyone.
Everyone but herself, as it turned out in the end.
If ten years ago someone had told her what her life would turn into, she wouldn't have believed it. But everything had changed gradually and little by little, until one day he woke up to find himself living in some crazy, twisted fairy tale.
It was terrifying, but the alternative-her life before she married Jim-still burned like a burning memory in her mind.
Maybe it was making her weak, but she couldn't think of the price she had to pay, just to not go back. And if her husband knew the truth about her past, he would give anything to keep it buried.
As a result, Helen could afford whatever she thought of and whatever she wanted. That's what brought her here, to the shoe section of Ormonds, where she came at least three times a week.
Sometimes the pleasure was short-lived. She often disappeared before she even got home with the new boxes and packages, but the initial delight of the new acquisition always intoxicated her.
She had lived too long without it to take it for granted now.
At this point, as she waited, leaning back in the leather armchair, for the dark-haired salesman (was his name Louis?) to bring the shoes she wanted to try on, she began to wonder if the price was worth it.
There was definitely something to be said for being able to buy anything he wanted now, especially after the hard years he'd been through. Things seemed easy now. And that brought her some comfort.
She didn't just buy things. Even in his momentary light-headedness from the champagne, he was aware of that.
Buy good memories.
In a life devoid of emotional warmth, he did everything he could to secure moments that he would later remember with pleasure. As something other than just wasting time between birth and death.
So many times she was drawn to the amazing scent of perfume, to a natural body lotion, to an outfit that made her look killer, or - most of the time - to a pair of shoes that elevated her to the pinnacle of happiness in the literal and figurative. meaning of the word.
– Excuse me, Mrs. Zaharis, someone's voice interrupted her thoughts.
Louie. Or Lewis? Or, hell, maybe it was called something else entirely. Maybe Bob?
– Yes? - she replied, trying not to address him personally, as the probability of her being wrong was high.
– I'm afraid your card has been declined. He handed her her American Express like it was a dead spider he found in his salad.
Rejected? It was not possible.
“There must be some mistake,” she objected. – Try again.
– I've done it three times already, madam. – The man smiled apologetically and Helen noticed that one of the molars in his mouth was completely blackened. – The amount cannot be paid through it.
– Six hundred dollars? – she exclaimed in bewilderment. – This card has no limit!
The consultant nodded affirmatively.
– Maybe it was reported stolen and you didn't get the replacement?
– Nope. He reached into his bag and pulled out his wallet. It was stuffed with one and five dollar bills, an old habit left over from when those bills had made her feel rich. There were several other credit cards. She took out the silver MasterCard and handed it to him.– I'll check later. Try this one. Shouldn't be a problem. - There was a sharpness in her voice that was not inherent to her. In truth, there was often a note of impatience creeping into her intonation that she couldn't explain in any other way than the uncomfortable theory that it was a reflection of her unsatisfactory personal life, and perhaps dissatisfaction with the service.
The dark-haired clerk (and why didn't the store have a practice of employees wearing name tags?) quickly returned with the other credit card, and Helen sat back in her chair, confident that he would appear in a minute with a check, to sign, after which she would be free to leave with her purchases.
Or with the booty, as her therapist Dr. Dana Kolobner jokingly called them.
It was really kind of a booty. He was aware of it. He bought to satisfy his appetite. After a few hours the satisfaction wore off and he felt the need for more. Well… it wasn't quite like that. Necessity was an overstatement. She was realistic enough to differentiate between want and need.
Sometimes she felt like she could throw it all away and join the Peace Corps. But at thirty-eight she was probably too old. Maybe this was another missed opportunity that passed her by as she wasted years of her life with a man who had no feelings for her.
And whom she didn't love either. Not anymore.
The salesman returned, snapping her out of her thoughts. Something in his expression had changed – he had abandoned his learned politeness.
– I'm afraid this one is also invalid, he announced, holding the card between his thumb and forefinger.
“There's something wrong here,” Helen countered, a familiar feeling of uneasiness creeping into her stomach. He swiped the card served from Jim's work account. He only used it as a last resort. Like this one.
After no more than two minutes, the man reappeared, and this time his face showed contempt. Gave her back the card…cut into four equal pieces.
– They made me do it, he explained sharply.
– Who exactly?
He hunched his bony shoulders, on which hung an overly baggy jacket.
– From the bank. They claim the card is stolen.
The seller nodded and raised his carefully plucked eyebrows.
– So they said.
– I think I would have known if my card had been stolen.
– I think so too, Mrs. Zaharis. However, the message was unequivocal and I was forced to act on the order.
She resented his condescending tone, but tried to control the anger that came over her.
– You should have talked to me before you cut the card.
The man shook his head.
– I'm afraid you're wrong. I was warned that if I didn't, the shop would be fined.
Nonsense. She was sure he took pleasure in cutting up the card, and even more in handing her the pieces. He knew that kind of people.
She gave him a chilling look and took out her cell phone from her bag.
– Excuse me. I have to call.
– Of course.
She watched him walk away, afraid that she wouldn't even count to five and he would come back to pelt her with more accusations. But the man had barely reached the far end of the room when a girl poked her head through the door and called out:
– Javier is on the phone, Luis. It knows you have a fake card problem.
Louis. Helen remembered the name so she could personally address the letter of protest she intended to write to the store manager.
He took one of the rejected cards out of his wallet and dialed the bank number, impatiently going from menu to menu until he finally got through to a living being.
– This is Wendy Noel on the phone. How can I help you?
– I hope you're able to do it, Wendy, Helen picked up in the kindest tone she could muster under the circumstances. – For some reason my card was declined at a store today and I can't figure out why.
– I will be happy to help you, madam. Could you wait a moment?
Helen sat with her heart pounding as a melody played in her ear, mixing with the music echoing through the shop.
– Mrs. Zaharis? – came the voice of the bank employee.
– Your card has been reported stolen, madam. – The girl was trying to be polite. There was sympathy and apology in his tone. – It's blocked.
– But I didn't declare her missing, Helen objected. - I am currently in a store where they refuse to accept it.
– There is no way to use it once it's reported stolen.
Helen shook her head even though the woman on the other end of the line couldn't see her.
– This is probably identity theft. – That was the only logical explanation of what was happening. – Who declared it invalid?
– Someone is… Dime… Demet… Lynx…
– Demetrius? – she asked, not believing her ears.
– That's right. Demetrius Zacharis, the woman muttered. – Call us personally to report the card as stolen.
– But why? Helen mumbled before she could stop herself as she knew there was no answer to that question. Or at least one that could satisfy her.
– I'm afraid I don't know.
– Has a replacement card been sent? – She felt that she was gradually overcome by panic. – Could you guarantee my purchases with the new number?
– Mr. Zaharis has specifically instructed us not to send a replacement card at this time.
Stunned, Helen hesitated for a moment. She wanted to protest, to say that there had been a mistake, to suggest that someone in Jim's entourage had called to block the card, but something deep inside told her that things were not right. Her husband had done all this on purpose.
Thanks the woman, hung up and immediately dialed Jim's number.
He only picked up after the fourth beep.
– Why did you report my credit cards as stolen?
– Who's calling?
She could imagine his smug grin.
– Why, she repeated sharply, did you block my cards?
He heard the leather chair creak under his weight.
– Let me ask you something – he replied in a voice heavy with sarcasm. – Is there anything you would like to share with me? Something you've been hiding from me?
Her stomach curled up into a ball.
What had he discovered?
– Where are you hitting, Jim? – God, there were so many things he could have meant.
– I think you know very well.
Thousands of possibilities flooded her mind.
– Nope. I can't think of anything so bad that you would want to humiliate me like that in public. Do you think it's to your advantage if word gets out that your wife is trying to shop with blocked credit cards?
– Not so much as… well… being deprived of a family.
Volume: 304 pages