Ryan's first foray into chickish lit (after The Kingsley House) chronicles a troublesome wedding day through the eyes of the many people involved. Leading the cast is Anne, the wedding planner, who wears a smile for her difficult clients as she fights the emotional upheaval of having been served divorce papers earlier in the day. Her story bookends the nutty nuptials of "VHM" (very high maintenance) bride Allison and doofy groom Mead. By filtering the wedding day through a host of perspectives-the bride's divorced parents, family friends, vapid bridesmaids-Ryan fleshes out her initially screwball cast, showing the perfectionist aesthete behind the daddy's girl, the frightened woman behind the shrewish socialite, the kind heart of the much-reviled trophy wife. Naturally, hijinks threaten the big day: the groom may have slept with one of the bridesmaids; the flower girl, ignored by her partying parents, vanishes during the reception; the bride's hopeless sister gets ejected from the wedding party. Some characters remain opaque or superfluous, but there's enough goings-on to pull readers through the rocky spots. (Nov.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
How (Not) to Have a Perfect Weddingby Arliss Ryan
Anne is a professional wedding hostess at the most beautiful of the opulent mansions along Newport's seashore. She knows the smile she beams at her guests doesn't have to be sincere, just present. She's managed to maintain the illusion of pleasant composure through ten years of rowdy guests and sobbing brides. However, tonight Anne is afraid she won't be able to hold her tongue, let alone her smile: The wedding from hell has landed on her beautifully manicured lawn.
The perfect bride may hope her wedding is beautiful, but would never tell her sister to lose thirty pounds or lose her invitation. The perfect groom might be sad his stag days are over, but could be trusted with the babysitter. The perfect father of the bride may not have had a model marriage, but would never parade his brand new trophy wife in front of his bitter ex-wife. But this is not a perfect wedding.
From the caterer to the groom to the barmaid, everyone involved tells the story of a disaster in the making. A romp through the kind of wedding we all want to hear about-but never experience-How (Not) to Have a Perfect Wedding will leave you cringing with delight.
The skillful use of multiple narratives elevates this novel above the usual women's wedding fiction. It's Allison and Mead's wedding day, and the ceremony and reception will be held at a swanky Newport, RI, mansion. Too bad the mansion's hostess received her divorce papers that morning; the bride's mother is still bitter about the divorce and her ex's new arm candy; the bride is trying to sideline her frumpy sister and make over her future sister-in-law; the bridesmaids get wind of an indiscretion that could derail the marriage before the wedding; and no one's seen the flower girl in quite some time. Ryan (The Kingsley House) uses distinctive viewpoints to great advantage, building tension and developing characters from the very first page, including everyone from the bridal party to the bartender, mansion staff, and caterer. She blends humor and poignancy with a light hand, taking a serious look at weddings and marriage, friendship and family, without taking it all too seriously. A worthy addition to the genre. Recommended for all public libraries.
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- 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)
Meet the Author
Arliss Ryan is the author of a historical novel, The Kingsley House, and numerous short stories. How (Not) to Have a Perfect Wedding was inspired by her experiences as a wedding hostess in one of the famous Newport, Rhode Island, mansions. She now lives and writes in St. Augustine, Florida.
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