[Book Review] Wedding Night

wedding

Few things are more frustrating than disliking a new book from a favorite author. After months (or years) of anticipation, you hope they will not disappoint you and deliver something that at least equals their previous works. So you order the new book, you wait for it to be delivered, you look longingly at the cover before you get started and set your expectations up high from page one already.

Liking Sophie Kinsella so much was one of the reasons I was extremely disappointed with Wedding Night (The Dial Press, 446 pages). The book alternates chapters between two sisters, Lottie and Fliss, as the second tries to stop the first from an impulsive marriage after Lottie breaks up with her previous boyfriend.

It is extremely difficult for a chick-lit fan to criticize Sophie Kinsella, who is one of the best authors of the genre. Her plots are usually well built, her writing is very good, her talent to write comedy will make you laugh out loud in public and embarrass yourself. In Wedding Night, however, the same joke is explored to exhaustion throughout at least three quarters of the book, leaving the reader impatient for it to be over or at least for something new to happen. This would have been much better if it were 100 or 150 pages shorter.

Long chick-lit books are perfectly enjoyable, though, as long as the main characters are charismatic and relatable: it’s hard to root for a couple if you dislike them both. That was my problem with 50 Ways to Find a Lover and now, with Wedding Night. From chapter one I wanted to shake Lottie by her shoulders and tell her to control herself: she is whiny, self-centered and inconsequent, irresponsible and thoughtless, demanding and, what’s worse, unbelievable. It’s not that I expected her to be perfect – it would have made her completely unreal –, but is it too much to ask for a character both likeable and credible? Both the boys surrounding her are also damp and colorless to the point I can’t even remember their names.

The one good part of the book are the chapters written from Fliss’s point of view, especially because of Lorcan, a friend of the groom who helps her stop the couple. Lorcan and Fliss are the only characters to whom Kinsella gave an actual voice, even if it’s difficult to accept the degree to which Fliss interferes in her sister’s life, leaving the reader also only half-heartedly rooting for her. Lorcan is, in the end, the only reasonable person in the entire book, and he barely appears in it.

(Lorcan is also sexy as hell. Feel free to imagine him as Benedict Cumberbatch. I did. Only thing that saved the book.)

As if it weren’t enough, include a predictable plot twist and a cheesy ending to this mess and you’ll have a good idea what reading this felt like. Even if Kinsella’s writing makes the book flow despite of its flaws, it’s a shame that we’ll have to wait longer to have another great story from someone so talented in warming hearts and causing laughter. If you want to read Kinsella, don’t get started with this one.

[Additions to my bookshelf] March 15th, 2013

I have recently left my internship and, as a present, the wonderful people who work there gave me a gift card to my favorite bookstore, Livraria Cultura.

As the money was given to me and could be used at a bookstore only, it fits on Rule #2 and I’m allowed to buy books!

Here are the ones I have bought so far (yes, a very generous gift):

1. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy – The links are all to the actual edition I chose. I’m not a big fan on tie-in editions, but in this case I decided to buy the movie cover because a) it was cheap; b) it’s a gorgeous cover and c) tiny-but-gorgeous Aaron Johnson as Vronsky. Judge me if you want!

2. Will Grayson, Will Grayson, John Green and David Levithan – Basically because of John Green. I have not the slightest idea what the book is actually about, but having loved An Abundance of Katherines (review here), Looking For Alaska (review here) and The Fault In Our Stars (review on its way), I trust Mr. Green and anything he touches.

3. Van Gogh, Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith – After Anna Karenina, this was the easiest one to choose. The edition I bought is hardcover, (decently, it seems) translated to Portuguese (which is, after all, my mother language), with colored illustrations and about 1,000 pages long. And it was considerably cheap – 80 reais, about 40 dollars, which is the original price. A bit heavy to carry around, so it’ll wait for vacations.

4. The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight, Jennifer E. Smith – I had never heard about it, but after seing it at the bookstore decided to search for reviews from people whose tastes were similar to mine. I was happy to find out there was a positive review on The Infinite Curio, one of my favorite literary blogs, so I decided to give it a shot. (Also: CHEAP. It costs 16 reais in Brazil, around 8 dollars, and books, even paperbacks, haven’t been that cheap for a while).

4. Wonder, R. J. Palacio – To be quite honest, this was a shot in the dark. I hope I like it, especially since I bought it on hardcover. But I have been hearing a positive buzz surrounding it, so I guess it must be good.

5. The Duke and I, Julia Quinn – Two friends of mine like this author a lot and told me this was a great place to start. It seems to be the first of a series and, according to one of them, every book focuses on a member of a large family, but gives glimpses on the lives of previous couples (a bit like Meg Cabot’s Boy thrilogy, I guess). It also caught my eye that these are basically Jane Austen meets Sophie Kinsella, which must mean a good read. I had to import it, though, and my copy will only arrive in May!

For now, that is all, but there’s still some money left. I’m open to suggestions both on what else to buy and what to read first!