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Ginia BellafanteIt is comforting to read a book that looks at the real doubts women have when marriage comes after the breeziness of youth has subsided.
— Time Magazine
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Most prospective brides will find themselves able to understand many of Eve's quirky behaviors that are symptomatic of engagement. The trip to Tiffany's to examine an overpriced, unrealistic ring that she wants but knows in her heart of hearts she will never get. The constant need to reassure herself that the engagement is real. The arguments over whether it's smart to save $50 and not have lined envelopes for the wedding invitation. And who can forget the future mother-in-law? Eve's happens to be a bit neurotic and requests that no rice be thrown at the wedding because she fears the birds will explode and then spread disease — to which Eve responds by asking if that will be her only request. "For now," the mother-in-law says.
But women who are single or already married need not shy away from this book. All women will find Otherwise Engaged to be a humorous, easy read that has "it-book" written all over the cover. Needless to say, there is a lot of dialogue in the book that will inevitably be dropped into casual conversation around the barbecue pit this summer. One of Eve's close work associates is leaving to find himself, and on his final day she experiences what her friend Jill calls a Grand Klong: "a sudden rush of shit to the heart." Huh?
"A Grand Klong is when you look in your rearview mirror and you see the police car," Jill says. "A Petit Klong is where you're talking about somebody and they arrive, but they have not heard their name." What a perfect way of summing up two precarious situations.
There are other pearls of wisdom from Jill, who does not appear that often in Otherwise Engaged but somehow ends up with all of the great lines. Consider her take on antidepressants: "Zoloft is a wizened old woman with a black velvet bag that closes with a golden cord and has stars and moons all over it. Her empty-headed daughter is Elavil, who always wears white and ballet slippers. Whose hair looks beautiful from a distance but is actually quite thin. Elavil powders her face with rice flour and is engaged to Prozac, a magician who performs for royalty in silver tights. They will never marry. Tragedy will avert it."
Finnamore's first novel doubles as an outlet for her vivid imagination and isn't to be taken seriously as a primer on engagement. You will laugh at Eve's therapy sessions with Reuben. You will be inspired by Eve's corporate prowess at the advertising agency she works for. You will be delighted by the occasional whimsical moments, like Eve's having her colleagues pound on a candy-filled piñata in the office. But serious prose this is not. You might be surprised by the author's light treatment of Eve's sick friend — or question the merits of including this in the book at all. And at times, you might even wonder why Finnamore goes off on tangents about Eve's parents and largely neglects her day-to-day interaction with her fiancé. But again, it's not serious prose, and higher expectations are better suited for other books. Otherwise Engaged is a light read that is perfect for a hot, lazy summer afternoon or for diversion during an anxious train ride whose only purpose is buying a bridal gown.
"Bitchy, bold, and brilliant." —Mademoiselle
"A darkly comic novel.... Finnamore also captures tender and even touching moments that illuminate this couple's relationship—and keep you rooting for them. But mostly she keeps you laughing. A great shower gift for the stressed-out June bride-to-be."—Newsday
"So funny and charming and smart. I felt bitter that someone else got to write it."—Anne Lamott, author of Traveling Mercies
Posted July 6, 2004
I haven;t enjoyed a novel this much in years. I was sick to see it end. The heroine is a smart sassy babe who has her faults in spades and admits to every single one. Her love life is under the magnifying glass as she contemplates and lives through a year full of not only being engaged, but being alive and past 30. The world of advertising is delightfully sent up in this uproarious story of marriage and career for the modern woman. From the Untimatum to the Walk down the aisle, you'll be entranced. Just wanting more now. More! More! More!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 23, 2004
The honesty and spare writing style of Otherwise Engaged is surely why it has remained a classic in an over-crowded genre. Perhaps it is because this highly entertaining novel avoids the shallow details almost altogether -- the bulk of the story pivots on the dilemma/mixed blessing of a late marriage after the glibness of youth has waned and Reality is a real factor in the decision to take the leap of faith down the aisle -- yes, The Aisle that leads more than half its newlyweds to certain doom! Unique, thoughtful , this book breaks all the rules and gets high marks for style and wit. A superb read and food for thought.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 14, 2003
This is the one to buy and to read and to give to your girlfriends so you can laugh together and realize that it's only marriage, after all. But the author does a marvelous job of telling Eve's story as she details,month by month, her year- long engagement to the man of her dreams. Those 'dreams of the perfect man and marriage' become a little intense and downright scary at times, when Eve considers her own parents' divorce and the statistics in general! Yet the honesty of her fear is well put and funny as well, and you know she is not going to bail. Or do you? Hilarious and intelligently written, Otherwise Engaged makes a superb summer read, an original and worthwhile wedding shower gift or bridesmaid favor - And what luck that even the bookjacket is nicely done. Bravo!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 6, 2003
That is how I ended up buying this novel instead of the others that came directly after its publication -- yes the marriage novel has become a trend, but this is the genuine article. Tart, funny, smart, charming. A great gift as well. I love everything Finnamore has written, and I hope to see another novel in the immediate future!!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 29, 2003
Oh my gosh. I just read Otherwise Engaged last winter when I was married, at 46, to my fiance of 55. I was his Second Wife, as was Eve in this wonderful, uproarious novel. I could so relate to her doubts, passions, and excitement as the big day approached. It made me feel better to know I was not the only one thinking...For The Rest Of Your Life....socks on the floor. His. And now I've read The Zygote Chronicles, a novel written and dedicated to the author's son. It's brilliant. So I am spreading the word, and saying that your money is indeed not wasted on a validating experience, and a quick and splendid read. Well-written as well as informative and fun, I love both these books.... for the woman with a sense of humor, going through changes with a capital C. Highly recommended.....and much enjoyed.....Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 27, 2003
This is a classic amoung my girlfriends. I am now buying my fourth copy as an engagement gift for my sister. It is funny as well as touching, and the writing is quite fine, a cut above the genre. Don't miss it...!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 7, 2003
Just like the TLC song, this book is all that -- crazy, sexy, cool. Suzanne Finnamore had me hooked from the start. Not only does she tackle a subject near and dear to many a woman's heart, to marry or not to marry, and, once decided, the ensuing roller-coaster ride to the alter -- she does it with great humor, wit, and a devastating accuracy. The story alone is one that can make for a good read, but the artistry of Suzanne Finnamore's writing is what elevates this book beyond mere 'good fiction' to a work of art. I couldn't turn a page without coming across yet another beautifully crafted turn of phrase, so fresh and unusual, I longed to have written it myself. This is a unique voice, and one that I expect will catch the 'ear' and hearts of many discerning readers. I have a feeling that the name Suzanne Finnamore will be aptly placed alongside other greats of this genre such as Fay Weldon and Helen Fielding to name but two.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 14, 2003
I couldn't get into the writing style of this author. I got bored halfway through and gave up on reading the novel! The character is fun and smart, but she went out with her guy when he was dating someone else. What makes her think that he's going to stay faithful since he cheated in the past? Doesn't make a promising future. Yeah people make mistakes and its just a novel but I got so tired of it. It was all right.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 19, 2002
Calling All Women Otherwise Engaged by Suzanne Finnamore is quite an experience to read. The story is about a woman (narrator of story) who has recently gotten engaged and is explaining the emotional roller coaster of planning a wedding to the readers. However, her experiences throughout the book relate to all women, regardless of her age, race, or the fact that she is engaged. The book takes a reader from the narrator being single to her standing at the altar. The comments about men, weddings, single life, and engaged life apply to all women. Women have all experienced at least one of these stages or more. The opinions that the narrator voices on these experiences is the opinion that most women believe, yet do not voice it. The narrator bluntly states to the readers that she is afraid of being an old single lady, sitting in front of her television, and eating canned food. Many women have thought of this, probably multiple times throughout their lifetime. Yet seeing another woman think the same thoughts we do, is amusing. The narrator¿s thoughts and experiences in the novel are something all women can read and say, ¿I¿ve been there.¿ Nevertheless, Suzanne Finnamore does an amazing job targeting women of all kind.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 19, 2002
What fun! And what a great voice this author has -- loved the humor and the ironic asides that women think but don't often say. Definitely breaks the taboos on talking about the desire to find true love and make it last and to do it with your eyes wide open. The Zygote Chronicles, her latest novel, is also pure delight. You won't be sorry !!! Also , both books make stellar gifts for women friends..........delicioWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 16, 2001
My husband kept asking me what I was reading on the beach --some of her comments are a bit harsh, with a grain of salt, enjoy a mindless, well-written hysterical novel about us 'older' brides!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 15, 2001
I loved this book. Otherwise Engaged is a well written book that is as insightful as it is witty. Eve is a very memorable character who is likeable and easy to relate to.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 13, 2001
Laughed out loud several times. This to me is enough for any novel - but this book offered more. Caustic wit, depth and a realt true-to-life and passionate love story, without the bodice-ripping or bad writing. LOve this author's voice. Waiting for moreWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 10, 2001
I didn't really enjoy this book as much as I had expected . I found the narrator to be very self-absorbed and annoying. It didn't bore me, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to others.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 20, 2001
Posted August 5, 2000
I thought this book was very funny. I am not yet engaged - although I am PATIENTLY waiting. I could really see myself and my relationship in Eve and Michael. Not the perfect couple, but perfect for each other. I could also see why any 'feminists' out there wouldn't like it. I guess they just don't know how it feels to love a man enough to be overly excited when the proposal finally comes. I thought the way the author describes each experience is so real, you can't help but laugh at the familiarity of it all.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 31, 2000
Posted June 8, 2000
I belatedly found this book on the Barnes and Noble Great New Authors for 99 display, and I was once again impressed by their astute selection. Luckily, Otherwise Engaged was out in Vintage paperback, listing many media kudos to make me feel secure in my choice, and saved me money besides! I agree with Anne Lamott's cover quote that it was charming, smart and witty. I read it from cover to cover with sheer delight. I can't wait to see what this unique and sparkling author doesWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 3, 2000
I read this book and laughed and cried the whole way through. it's a real treat and I recommend it to anyone who's married, unmarried, or even THINKING of getting married. Compelling, touching, and REAL.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 16, 2000
This book has been haunting me in the stores for months. I really wanted to read it, but had no time. So I received it for Valentine's Day and read it all the way through. It was the most enlightening piece of work I've ever read and I recommend it to anyone who has a sense of humor. I loved it and hope you do too.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.