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Shoe Addicts Anonymous

Shoe Addicts Anonymous

3.8 81
by Beth Harbison

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Four different women. One common shoe size. And a shared lust for fabulous footwear.

Helene Zaharis's politician husband keeps her on a tight leash and cancels her credit cards as a way of controlling her. Lorna Rafferty is up to her eyeballs in debt and can't stop her addiction to eBay. Sandra Vanderslice, battling agoraphobia, pays her shoe bills by working as


Four different women. One common shoe size. And a shared lust for fabulous footwear.

Helene Zaharis's politician husband keeps her on a tight leash and cancels her credit cards as a way of controlling her. Lorna Rafferty is up to her eyeballs in debt and can't stop her addiction to eBay. Sandra Vanderslice, battling agoraphobia, pays her shoe bills by working as a phone-sex operator. And Jocelyn Bowen is a nanny for the family from hell (who barely knows a sole from a heel but who will do anything to get out of the house.)

On Tuesday nights, these women meet to trade shoes and, in the process, form friendships that will help them each triumph over their problems---from secret pasts to blackmail, bankruptcy, and dating. Funny, emotional, and powerful, Shoe Addicts Anonymous is a perfect read for any woman who has ever struggled to find the perfect ?t.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Harbison's latest is a captivating, sparkling tale, filled with wit and charm ... Superb character development and a winning plotline make this an engaging novel not to be missed.” —RTBook Reviews

“Harbison creates vivid, convincing characters and handles them well. Reading this novel is like eating a slice of cake.” —RTBook Reviews

“Harbison's hardcover fiction debut lovingly describes beautiful shoes.” —Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Light and breezy as a pair of summer sandals, this chick lit about four very different women drawn into friendship by their shared love of fine footwear makes for perfect beach listening. Orlagh Cassidy doesn't create actual character voices per se, but she does differentiate her voice to make it clear who is speaking: a cool, confident, well-spoken tone for political wife Helene; a timid, self-deprecating voice for shy Jocelyn; a snappish, demanding tone for Jocelyn's snobbish and unreasonable employer. Cassidy's warm and expressive narration brings out the likability of the characters and will have listeners hooked on their humorous ups and downs. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's Press hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 19). (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal
A shoe group? Yes, it's four women-from a politician's wife to an unhappy nanny-who work out their problems as they meet to drool over fancy footwear. Romance and cookbook author Harbison leaps into the big time. With rights sold to seven countries. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Three ladies bond over their shared enthusiasm for high-end footwear-while trying to sort out their various personal issues. Deeply in debt, underachieving waitress Lorna Rafferty realizes she might have a problem when, arriving home with a new pair of expensive peep-toe ankle-strap platform sandals that she just had to have, she discovers that the electricity in her Bethesda apartment has been turned off for non-payment. Clearly, things have to change, but Lorna, loathe to give up the sensual and emotional pleasure she gets from acquiring shoes, places an ad on "Gregslist" to meet other enthusiasts who share her size and are willing to trade shoes. In addition to the expected oddballs, Lorna's ad attracts Helene, a stunning D.C. trophy wife trapped in a loveless marriage to philandering yet charismatic Senator Jim Zaharis. Cruel as well as a cheat, the Senator cancels Helene's credit cards when he discovers that she has been secretly taking birth-control pills, depriving him of the camera-ready heir he craves. Then there is Sandra, the agoraphobic, overweight (and surprisingly successful) phone-sex operator who joins the others on the advice of her therapist. The fledgling support group is rounded out by 20-something live-in nanny Joss, who fibs about both her size and love of shoes to get some time away from her spoiled charges and their nasty, snooty mom. In no time, the ladies are exchanging life stories and becoming good friends. When Lorna notices a man following Helene, the gals hatch a plan to thwart what appears to be a blackmailing scheme, leading to a number of predictable complications. There are also subplots involving a possibly gay boyfriend, a stern banker who is not asbuttoned up as he seems and a sexy Italian shoe designer. Harbison's hardcover fiction debut lovingly describes beautiful shoes. Too bad the love stories never reach the same intensity.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.26(w) x 5.54(h) x 0.94(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Shoe Addicts Anonymous: A Novel

By Beth Harbison

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2007 Beth Harbison
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-1582-3


Sex in a box. That's what it was. Spine-tingling, heart-stopping, decadent sex in a box.

Lorna Rafferty pushed the tissue aside, and the heady smell of leather filled her nostrils, sending a familiar tingle straight through her core. The feeling — this thrill — never got old, no matter how many times she went through the ritual.

She touched the tightly stitched leather and smiled. She couldn't help it. This was wicked pleasure at its sensuous, tactile, hedonistic best. It made her skin prickle from head to toe.

She ran her fingertips along the smooth surface, skidding over the graceful arch, like a cat stretching under the midday sun; she smiled at the sharp but satisfying prick of the spike. Yes. Yesss.

This was hot.

She knew it was wrong, of course. Twelve years in Catholic school hadn't been for nothing: she'd pay the price for this indulgence later.

Well, hell, she'd been planning on that for years.

That debt was going to have to get in line with a lot of others.

In the meantime, Lorna had these peep-toe ankle-strap Delman platform sandals to comfort her. She could walk right into the fires of hell if she had to, in shoes to die for.

One of the only things she could remember about her mother was her shoes. Black-and-white spectators. Little pink sandals with kitten heels. And Lorna s favorites: long, slim satin shoes, with heels like narrow art deco commas, and tiny bows at the toe that were frayed slightly at the end from the years since her wedding.

If she closed her eyes, Lorna could still picture her own small feet shoved into the toes of those shoes, the heels clapping treacherously behind her as she traipsed across a faded Oriental carpet in her parents' bedroom toward the fading blur of golden hair and big smile and the waft of Caron's Fleurs de Rocaille perfume that was her memory of her mother.

Of all the things she knew or remembered about her mother, and all the things she didn't remember, Lorna knew one thing for sure: clearly the love of shoes was hereditary.

She took the Delmans out of the box slowly, mentally shoving away the memory of handing over her credit card and waiting — like a gambler who'd bet it all on red — for the yes or no from that faraway Credit Card Roulette Approval Commission.

This time it was yes.

She'd signed the slip, promising (to herself), Yes, of course I'll pay for these shoes! No problem! My next paycheck will go to these shoes), while assuming an expression of one who pays their entire balance with every statement and whose entire life couldn't be repossessed by Visa at a moment's notice.


She'd ignored the other voice: I shouldn't be doing this, and I will make a promise, here and now, to God or anyone else that if this charge goes through, I will never ever spend money I dont have again.

Best not to think about the repercussions.

If pushing away uncomfortable thoughts about money burned calories, Lorna would have been a size 2.

She admired the shoes in her hands for a few minutes, then put them on.



Pleasure that, treated properly, would last a lifetime. Pleasure she'd always be ready and in the mood for.

So what if she'd had to charge them? By her next paycheck, she'd be able to throw some money at her debt. Within — what — a couple of years, maybe three, possibly four at the most — and that was assuming she wasn't all that strict with her spending — the debt would be gone completely.

And these Delmans would be as awesome then as they were right now. And probably worth twice as much. Maybe even more. They were classic. Timeless.

A good investment.

No sooner had Lorna had that thought, sitting in the living room-dining room of her small Bethesda, Maryland, apartment, than the lights went off.

Her first thought was that the electric company had turned off her power. But no ... she'd paid the bill recently enough. Had she missed a thunderstorm somehow? Summers in the D.C. area were notoriously hot and muggy, and this early August day was no exception. Citizens like her paid monthly for electricity that occasionally — in the worst of summer — went off for hours, sometimes even more than a day.

She got up from the sofa and tottered in her Delmans over to the phone on the hall table. She called the power company, fully expecting to be told everyone had overtaxed the power grid by cranking their AC, and that the power would be back on soon. Maybe she'd go to the mall and kill an hour or two in the cool air there before work, she thought idly, dialing the number on the old pink princess phone she'd whispered secrets into since she was twelve years old.

Ten minutes and perhaps fourteen automated-system touch tones later, a power company representative — who had identified herself as Mrs. Sinclair, no first name — gave Lorna the response she had, deep down, been dreading.

"Ma'am, your power was shut off due to nonpayment."

Okay, first of all, that ma'am was totally condescending. And second — nonpayment? That wasn't possible. Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that she'd had a couple of really good tip nights and had come home and paid a bunch of bills? When was that? Like mid-July? Early July? It was definitely after the Fourth.

Or, wait, maybe it was just after Memorial Day. One of those cookout holidays. She'd worn those adorable pink Gucci sandals.

She looked dubiously at the pile of mail on the table by the door — it added up so quickly — and asked, archly, "What do you show as the last payment received?"

"April twenty-eighth."

Her mind ticked back like the calendar at the opening of a bad 1930s movie. Okay, she'd gotten that July windfall, but maybe she hadn't paid the electric bill that time. Maybe she'd paid it the time before, which was, what, maybe June? Could it possibly have been back as far as May?

Surely not April! No! No way. She was sure there was a mistake. "That's impossible! I —"

"We sent another notice on May fifteenth, and on June fifth," Mrs. Sinclair's voice rang with disapproval, "and on July ninth, we sent a cutoff notice, warning you that if we did not receive your payment by today, your power would be shut off."

Okay, she did vaguely remember at one point she was all ready to pay her bills when Nordstrom had sent a notice about their half-yearly sale.

That had been a great day. Those two pairs of Bruno Maglis were a steal. So comfortable, she could have run a mile in them.

But she'd definitely paid the bill the next month.


Hadn't she?

"Now, wait a minute, let me check my files." Lorna scrambled to her computer and pushed the button to turn it on, waiting a full five seconds or so before realizing that the computer, which held her payment records, ran on the very electricity the snarky woman on the other end of the line was withholding from her. "I'm sure I'd remember if you'd sent a cutoff notice."


It was easy to picture Mrs. Sinclair as a nasty little troll sitting under a bridge, with a pinched face and curly hair. You want electricity? You're gonna have to get past me first. So riddle me this: When was the last time you paid your utility bills?

Lorna gave an exasperated sigh and reached for her wallet. She'd been here before. "Okay, forget it, just tell me what it will take to turn it back on. Can I pay over the phone?"

"Yes. It's eight hundred seventeen dollars and twenty-six cents. You can use Visa, MasterCard, or Discover."

It took Lorna a moment to digest that. Mistake. Mistake. It had to be a mistake. "Eight hundred dollars?" she echoed stupidly.

"Eight seventeen twenty-six."

"I wasn't even here for a week in June." Ocean City. A week of espadrilles and Grecian tie-ups that made her feel like she was vacationing on the Mediterranean. "How could I have used eight hundred dollars' worth of electricity? That can't be right." Something had to be wrong here. They had someone else's bill confused with her own. They had to.

Maybe that was the collective bill for her entire floor of the building.

"That includes a one-hundred-and-fifty-dollar reconnect fee, and a two-hundred-and-fifty-dollar deposit, on top of your three-hundred-and-ninety-eight-dollar-and-forty-three-cent bill and finance charges of eighteen dollars and —"

"What's a reconnect fee?" They'd never asked for that before.

"The fee for reconnecting your power after it's been turned off."

This was unbelievable. "Why?"

"Ms. Rafferty, we had to turn off your power and now turn it back on."

"And that's, what, like a switch or something you have to flip?" She could picture pinched-faced Mrs. Sinclair sitting next to a great big cartoon ON/OFF switch. "You want me to pay a hundred and fifty dollars for that?"

"Ma'am" — there it was again, that ugly condescending tone — "you can do whatever you choose. If you want your power back on, it's going to cost you eight hundred and eighteen dollars and three cents."

"Whoa, wait a minute," Lorna interrupted. "A second ago, you said it was eight seventeen something."

"Our computers just refreshed, and today's interest was just added to your account."

The apartment was getting hot. It was hard to say if it was because the air-conditioning had been turned off or because Lorna was getting so frustrated with Mrs. Sinclair — whom she'd now decided was probably not married and had taken this opportunity to tag Mrs. onto her identity despite the fact that she hadn't had sex in years, if ever.

In fact, her name probably wasn't even Sinclair. She probably just used that as a pseudonym so that people wouldn't hunt her down and kill her at home after talking to her on the phone.

"Can I speak with a supervisor?" Lorna asked.

"I can have someone call you back within twenty-four hours, ma'am, but it won't change your bill."

Except for the added interest by the time they got back to her, of course.

Lorna took her Visa out of her wallet. It was practically still warm from the Delman purchase. "Fine." The battle was over. Lorna had lost. Hell, she was losing the entire war. "I'm going to use my Visa." Assuming the charge went through.

A split second of satisfaction seemed to crackle over the line from Mrs. Sinclair to Lorna. "And the name, as it appears on the card? ..."

* * *

After hanging up with Mrs. Sinclair, Lorna decided to look in the pile of mail by the door, to see if there really was a cutoff notice. Somehow, right up until that moment, she had remained half-convinced that there was a mistake.

There was a mistake, all right. In fact, by the time she'd opened all the envelopes, there was a large, ugly pile of mistakes, all of them hers.

To be honest, Lorna had known for some time that she needed to go through the stuff. The pile had sat there by the door, like a thing on fire, and she had tried to ignore it and the dull ache she felt in the pit of her stomach every time she passed it, or thought about it in the middle of the night when she couldn't sleep. She didn't have the money to pay the bills, but she always felt like she'd have it soon. Another paycheck, a good tip night. But her spending was out of control, and she knew it.

She just didn't know how completely out of control it was.

What on earth did she buy with all that money?

And why did she still feel so empty?

She wasn't extravagant. She hardly ever went out, and it wasn't as if she was sitting around sipping Dom Pérignon all the time. The only thing she bought that could, conceivably, be considered a nonnecessity were a few shoes here and there. That is, if you could possibly consider shoes unnecessary.

Sure, once in a while, when she found a really great pair, she'd get an extra, just in case. Like with the Maglis last summer. But, seriously, one pair cost a mere fraction of her rent. How did that add up to tens of thousands of dollars?

Until that moment, she'd kept thinking she'd pay the debt down. Money would come in, and she'd go through the bills and everything would be fine. She'd had $250, even $300 tip nights at the restaurant now and then. August was always slow in the restaurant business, but as soon as September rolled around, she was sure she'd make a lot.

But looking at the bills, it hit her hard that she was never going to be able to make enough to get this debt under control. There were late fees, over-limit fees, finance charges ... two of her five credit cards had raised the interest rate to within spitting distance of 30 percent. Of the $164 minimum payment on one, $162 was pure interest. Even Lorna knew that paying down the capital at two dollars a month would take decades.

And that was assuming she didn't use the card anymore.

She had a problem.

This was serious, serious debt.

It had begun simply enough, with a Sears charge card the department store had been gracious enough to send her in her first year of college. Having grown up very comfortably in the posh D.C. suburb of Potomac, Maryland, she always assumed that she would not only meet but would exceed that upper-middle-class suburban life. That was a starting point, not the high point of her life.

So when she got the credit card, it just felt right to go out and make a few small purchases that she would pay for herself.

Her first purchase had been a red pair of Keds. She'd seen them on the Lucite stand and immediately pictured herself dockside at the Chesapeake Bay with friends, her skin a deep bronze from the sun, her blond hair gleaming like the front of a box of Clairol Hydrience 02 Beach Blonde, her new boyfriend — the son of a wealthy family who owned car dealerships all across the D.C. Metro area — so enamored of her that he would propose and they'd live happily ever after.

At just eleven dollars and ninety-nine cents, plus 5 percent tax and a mere 16 percent interest on the Sears card, those Keds seemed like a good investment. She'd pay them off before the first statement was out.

On the way out of the store, though, she'd seen just a few more things that caught her eye; the new Sony Walkman was a steal at ninety-nine dollars, and who could begrudge her buying one little pair of silver earrings — seriously, come on, they were shaped like flip-flops....

Unfortunately Lorna was a little bit short when it came to paying the bill, and the boyfriend had dumped her a few weeks later, after cheating on her rather spectacularly with her best friend at her own birthday party; she'd spent the summer working miscellaneous temp jobs indoors, so the tan had never materialized; and her hair had grown out to a light brown that was lank and flat from the artificial environment of office buildings, rather than the spun gold she'd pictured blowing fetchingly around her face as she stood on the bow of the boat, sailing comfortably toward happily ever after.

But come fall she met a new man — one who loved salsa dancing. The footwear was magnificent. Stilettos, strappies, the man was a dream come true. It wasn't cheap, but who could put a price on a dream?

Of course the dream ended, and Lorna woke up and finished her college education as a single girl. Which isn't to say there weren't great shoes along the way — she got credit for taking ballet (she didn't make it to toe shoes, but the slippers were fun), jazz (there were full-sole and split-sole jazz shoes as well as boots), and tap (noisy patent leather!). She was a terrible dancer, but the shoes — the shoes!

So Lorna had marched steadily on toward her future in one pair of appropriate footwear after another, hope springing eternal that she would finally find the Prince Charming that went with the shoe. In turn, Lorna would lead the easy upper-middle-class life she'd grown up with — two or three kids, a golden retriever, a walk-in closet in her bedroom, and no money troubles.


Excerpted from Shoe Addicts Anonymous: A Novel by Beth Harbison. Copyright © 2007 Beth Harbison. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Beth Harbison is the New York Times bestselling author of Secrets of a Shoe Addict, Hope in a Jar and Thin, Rich, Pretty. She lives with her husband and two children near Washington, D.C., where she enjoys a large collection of impractical shoes and purses.

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Shoe Addicts Anonymous 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 81 reviews.
cookieMOMster713409HF More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book because I tend to enjoy "chick-lit" a lot. This book was definitely worth the purchase and the time spent reading! I just found it a little predictable at some points--which isn't really a bad thing necessarily. I wasn't looking for a "deep read" when I purchased this book. I enjoyed the friendship that the characters developed through their love of shoes and lack of funds needed to continue their shopping habits, and I loved the idea of a shoe club. It's one of those books that makes you want to call up your girlfriends and get together for coffee.
Sherri_Hunter More than 1 year ago
Cute story about shoe addiction that brings four women together once a week to trade designer shoes. These women are from completely different walks of life, but along the way, they become friends as they deal with their shoe addictions, personal problems and living their lives. The author does a wonderful job of introducing each character, spending enough time with each one to give the reader an opportunity to bond and empathize with them. Fans of chick-lit and romance novels will enjoy the quirky humor each character brings to the story.
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Lindsie More than 1 year ago
I found myself really enjoying this book. There were real issues that the characters had to deal with (not all the fluff like other chick lit books). The characters build long lasting friendships as well, which is always a plus. AND, the book was easy to read and follow. I would highly recommend it to all chick lit fans. This is my first book by the author and I plan on reading more of her books! A+
FrancaF1 More than 1 year ago
Great read! It shows you that people from all aspects of life can be friends and help each other deal with whatever is going on in each individuals life. Great read and definitely a page turner!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a good book and will be a great read for anyone who feels like they are addicted to shoes. It is funny and the bonds that develop are cute; however, the character development is sub-par and the progression of the story seems jolted towards the end. Bottom Line: The book was very cute and pretty funny but I wouldn't read it again nor recommend it to any friend that wasn't a Shoe Addict.
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bellaelena More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was a good first book for the author and I love the characters and how the author made you feel like you were one of there friends
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great easy read! Cant wait to read #2!
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Nicole Vazquez More than 1 year ago
Loved the friendship aspect of the book not sure if it was my ereader but way too many grammetical errors. Otherwise it was a nice beach read
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