Monday, May 31, 2010

72. The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham

Madeleine Wickham is also known as Sophie Kinsella and as I said in my Twenties Girl post, "Sophie Kinsella knows from chick lit, and I will give anything she writes a chance. Although her characters can be a little zany and hijinks usually ensue (hello, Shopaholic series), her books are still well-constructed and just plain fun. I may roll my eyes a few times, but I like being along for the ride." I've been involved in wedding planning for almost two years now, because of my sisters' weddings spaced a year apart, so I was especially interested to read a chick lit book entitled The Wedding Girl. Please note: Some spoilers are included below but I don't think they would affect your enjoyment of the book, should you read it.

At the age of eighteen, in that first golden Oxford summer, Milly was up for anything. Now, ten years later, she is a very different person. Engaged to a man who is wealthy, serious, and believes her to be perfect, she is facing the biggest and most elaborate wedding imaginable. But one small episode from the past has the power to completely derail her her carefully planned nuptials. Milly has locked away this history so securely that she has almost persuaded herself it doesn't exist -- until, with only four days to go, her secret catches up with her... And when "I do" gives you deja vu, it could be a problem.

Summary lifted from the book jacket.

Let's start with good news. Wickham is growing as an author and trying new things, which I admire. This is the first of her books that I can recall using different points of view, and it worked very well. Instead of staying inside Milly's head the whole time, we experience events with her family members, fiance, etc., and most of the characters are pretty well-developed. I enjoyed that aspect very much. Also, like Twenties Girl, it was a bit weightier than expected. I wouldn't have been disappointed with a frothy, bubbly, unsubstantial chick lit book, but there are some more serious issues lying beneath the surface. I admire Wickham's ability to combine the froth with the substantial. 

Okay, onto the not-so-good news. Milly is not as well-developed a character as I would hope for. She's your standard zany heroine, which is fine, but I don't understand her motivations. As a teenager, she marries an American gay friend so he can stay in England to be with his boyfriend. That I actually understand, her feelings are explained pretty well. But after she loses touch with them, she starts practicing denial to an insane degree. How does it not occur to her until the week of her wedding ten years later that this -- you know, ALREADY BEING MARRIED -- might be a problem? And she starts to hope that her husband of convenience has filed for divorce and somehow she wasn't notified. What? Also, her relationship with her fiance is never explained to my satisfaction. When she meets him, she speaks intelligently about a subject that she knows about basically by chance. So he gets an impression of her as more intellectual and upper-crust than she really is. And Milly just goes with it. And she's planning on just being someone she's not, you know, forever. Why? Why does she even love the guy? I don't know. There were a few other loose ends; the villain of the story is kind of cartoonish and I don't understand the motivations there either, and I was expecting more of a resolution between the fiance and his father, who have a troubled relationship but end the story on good terms somewhat suddenly. 

And of course there had to be a simple solution to the main conflict because life always works out that way. Actually, that didn't bother me too much. It worked for the story, I guess. All in all, it's a fun read and I like seeing how Wickham develops as an author from one book to the next. But this isn't her best work, and there are better chick lit reads out there. 

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