Retail Therapy

Shopping with Sophie Kinsella, who came to Manhattan to promote her new book, “Shopaholic and Sister” … A night at the Whitney

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NEW YORK — In her “Shopaholic” books, Sophie Kinsella pens tales about the most voracious designer label-lover in all of chick lit, the British fashionista Becky Bloomwood Brandon. And though the author stops far short of her much-loved heroine’s shopaholism, on a weeklong trip to Manhattan from her home in London to promote the fourth book in the series, “Shopaholic and Sister,” Kinsella still found some time for a layover at Barneys New York.

“I like that you can find so many designers from all over the place,” Kinsella says as she walks through the front door. She’s already carrying two shopping bags from Anthropologie filled, she says, with clothes for her family and friends back in Britain.

Kinsella, whose real name is Madeleine Wickham — she picked up the pseudonym when she began writing the series — discovered Barneys when she was working on 2002’s “Shopaholic Takes Manhattan.” In “Shopaholic Ties the Knot,” which was released last year, Kinsella’s heroine finds employment as a personal shopper for the store — which, of course, for the author, necessitated plenty of research time there.

So, knowing the lay of the land, Kinsella goes straight to the jewelry cases, briefly admiring a gold wire and green stone confection of a necklace before heading over to a display of hats.

“I have the exact coat that goes with this hat!” she exclaims, picking up a $175 Ann-Louise Roswald leaf-patterned topper. Although she tries on a steel blue newsboy cap and fingers a fur concoction, she sticks with her original choice. Kinsella later spies a Roswald top with the same design, but realizes too much pattern can be a bad thing. “I have the coat, and I’m buying the hat — that’s probably enough.”

“I have absolutely no room left in my carry-on bags, anyway.”

The trip to Barneys could be considered “working,” and her purchases, if she lived in the States, as a tax write-off. That is, if Kinsella understood U.S. taxes. “What is it about tax in the U.S.?” she asks with a laugh. “In Britain, 9.99 is 9.99. In New York, it’s $10.87 or some such.” (Clearly Kinsella is among the cadre who enjoy the value-added tax, which is included in the price of all clothing items in Britain and not added on at the checkout.)
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