Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

Simple writing and complex, yet realistic, characters make Jennifer Close’s Girls in White Dresses a great choice for a leisurely summer read.  The book follows a group of recent college graduates, Isabella, Mary and Lauren (plus a host of their mutual friends) as they maneuver new lives in New York with its ever-present trials and tribulations.  They each have their share of new boyfriends, new jobs and more than an abundant supply of engagement parties and weddings to attend.

Throughout the book, Close presents a funny and vivid portrayal of the complex relationship between friends.  Her accurate representation of the misunderstandings, the fights and the ultimate close bond between these young women rings true and I would imagine many readers of this book will see either themselves or their friends in the pages of Girls in White Dresses! 

The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham

The Wedding Girl by Madeleine WickhamOnly a couple more months until my wedding (GAH!) so I picked up Madeleine Wickham’s The Wedding Girl, hoping that the funny, whimsical hijinks of Milly Havill, the main character, would distract me from stressing out. Unfortunately, those hijinks turned out to be kind which cause more panic than giggles.

The story begins when eighteen year old Milly travels to Oxford on her first summer away from home and gets swept up in an intimate friendship with two gay men, Allan and Rupert. Soon the men approach Milly with an elaborate favor–Would she agree to marry American-born Allan so that he can remain in England to be with Rupert? Milly doesn’t hesitate before saying yes and soon finds herself smiling and waving at passerbys as she stands arm-in-arm with Allan in front of the registry office.

Ten years later, Milly has four days until she weds Simon, the son of a local millionaire, and her secret marriage has begun to leak out sending Milly and everyone around her in a downward spiral as they try to make the wedding still happen. This seems like it may just be the perfect set-up for a witty, British comedy ala Death at a Funeral, does it not?! But no! It is heavy and melancholy, but still every bit a page-turner thanks to the questions surrounding the whereabouts of Rupert and Allan. Although I enjoyed The Wedding Girl, I would instead suggest Meg Cabot’s Queen of Babble for Brides who are looking for a fun, romantic read with lots of wedding drama.

Wedding Guides

Are you planning a wedding?  If so, you might find these titles helpful.

Miss Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding, written by Judith Martin (aka Miss Manners) and her recently married daughter, Jacobina, is done in the traditional “Dear Miss Manners” question and answer style.  This in itself is pretty entertaining … well, don’t we all secretly find another person’s dilemma or faux pas a little humorous?  Right, as long as it’s not us!

Interspersed throughout are practical, informative comments.  For example, “Wedding as Fundraiser” is listed as one of Three Terrible Ideas (the title for chapter three.)  Times have changed, but hospitality still takes the cake.

Another book I wished I had read before my son got married (sigh –it was published a year later)  Anyway, Mother of the Groom by Sharon Naylor is packed full of practical insights.  It’s not just about the rehearsal dinner anymore!  And no, you don’t have to shut up and wear beige.  Well, you don’t want to upstage the bride and critical comments are best kept to yourself — so I guess it is still kind of true.

Have fun planning!

Rachel Getting Married

rachel-getting-marriedWeddings are  joyful occasions, but they’re also often fraught with emotional upheaval as adult children struggle to find their role in the family and come to terms with old resentments and tragedies from the past.

In Rachel Getting Married, Kym is home on a weekend pass from a drug addiction recovery program to attend her sister’s wedding. Rude, self-absorbed and sarcastic, she immediately stirs up trouble and tries to shift the focus of the weekend to herself. She’s also obviously fragile and damaged and desperate for love and understanding. Rachel is hesitant to reach out to her – Kym’s addictions have had far-reaching consequences and led to a tragedy that tore the family apart. Yet the bonds of love and family, though strained and frayed, hold strong and by the time Kym leaves they’ve reached a deeper understanding of and love for each other.

The various scenes of the wedding and the celebrations and events leading up to it are wonderful, often funny, sometimes heart-wrenching – a chaotic, multi-cultural extravaganza of music and traditions (the dishwasher-loading contest is especially funny) In the end, the lesson is that forgiving yourself may be the hardest thing you do, and that love can save you.

Anne Hathaway earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actress with her riveting performance of Kym.