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Something New: Reflections on the Beginnings of a Marriage


A funny and heartfelt take on what getting married is all about, Something New takes readers from one couple's engagement to their first anniversary.

When the love of her life slipped a diamond ring on her finger and said the magic words, Amanda Beesley entered the enchanted world she had dreamed of since childhood. If the reality doesn't always match the fantasy, Amanda quickly uncovers the comedy in every predicament.

It's hard to keep ...

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Something New: Reflections on the Beginnings of a Marriage

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A funny and heartfelt take on what getting married is all about, Something New takes readers from one couple's engagement to their first anniversary.

When the love of her life slipped a diamond ring on her finger and said the magic words, Amanda Beesley entered the enchanted world she had dreamed of since childhood. If the reality doesn't always match the fantasy, Amanda quickly uncovers the comedy in every predicament.

It's hard to keep smiling when she discovers that her mother has Alzheimer's. But the tender way her father attends to her mother, becomes its own lesson in marriage well-lived. Perceptive, intimate, and inspiring, Something New is a delight for anyone thinking about marriage, old or new.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble


I didn't always believe in a soulmate. You might say I believed in work instead. Don't all relationships require work? Couldn't I get along with almost anyone if I worked hard enough at it, if I made enough sacrifices and was willing to put enough of myself on the back burner for a while? I did exactly that for years before I met the man I would end up marrying. I could have done it forever, as many people do. It's called making it work, and it's perfectly natural, even admirable, an unwieldy technique that's been practiced -- if not perfected -- over generations of human coupling. Soulmates, it seemed to me, were for dreamier girls with Cinderella complexes who lacked the gritty determination to hammer their relationships into shape. Little did I know, as I labored, that I could stumble into a soulmate myself.

A soulmate is a person with whom you can communicate on the deepest levels -- beneath words, below our careful clothing and imperfect bodies, regardless of time and age and the awkward agreements we reach. The soul is the part of our lowly selves that's divine, the fire and the breath that lights us from the inside. When you meet someone who warms to what's buried beneath your surface, who sees and celebrates the essence of who you are without your having to try and explain it over soggy breakfasts and late-night negotiations, you have run into a soulmate. Of course, not everyone marries him. If you're lucky, you can have a great marriage and find your soulmate on the side: a friend at work, say, or someone you came across in an Internet chat room, or the goofy Irish guy you sat next to on a plane. It doesn't have to be about sex. It certainly doesn't have to end in marriage. The soul doesn't care about all that stuff.

Nor does it take the place of good old hard work. After falling in love with my husband, following the stomach-flipping bliss of those first few months came the tougher stuff: my learning that his occasional silences were best left unquestioned; his coming to understand that when I say I'm hungry, I can't wait another ten minutes. This, too, is part of love, this studying of each other and the slow adaptation of our habits and responses. But beneath those clumsy dances lay something else, something surprising. Sure, we were attracted to each other, but I've had that with waiters and old boyfriends in muscle shirts, too. Yes, we both loved books and writing, but so did my old boss, and I wasn't about to marry her. What startled me was the sense that we'd always known each other but had simply forgotten. Between us was an instinctive kinship that had nothing to do with sex or dating or even love.

Our souls have no need for any of the trappings of life, no interest in each other's taste in restaurants or flossing habits or ability to argue a point. They are only lonely -- whether their owners know it or not -- and seek the company of other like souls.

—Amanda Beesley

From the Publisher
"A hip, insightful look—by a refreshingly self-deprecating writer—at what saying 'I do'" —Mademoiselle

"A charmingly candid take on what happens when a worldly urban couple decides to get hitched." —Entertainment Weekly

"Reveals marriage's secrets as well as its comforts.... Poignant." —USA Today

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In an attempt to move beyond familiar advice on the niceties of weddings, this former bride rolls up her sleeves and sets out to explain what it actually feels like to get married, not just how to organize a big party. Drawing from a column she wrote for Self magazine chronicling her engagement and first year of marriage, Beesley presents a nuanced portrait of the real experience behind the facade of the blushing bride. In her case, not only was this time in her life alternately thrilling and overwhelming, but she was also coping simultaneously with her mother's diagnosis of dementia, which came two days after her engagement. Writing almost as much about her changing relationship with her mother as about the transformations her wedding and new marriage have wrought, Beesley manages to balance the two without diminishing the significance of either or resorting to melodrama. It is a pleasure to watch her find the strength to deal with these major transitions with grace and humor. "As she is, my mother loves me, with all the immediacy and intensity she has now. And for my part, I love her more than ever, with everything I have." This is a poignant, heartfelt and often funny story about some of life's greatest challenges and rewards, and a perfect book for brides-to-be. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This title takes the reader on a delightful journey through the engagement, wedding, and first year of marriage of the author, a columnist for Self magazine. Skillfully interwoven into this story of the rise of a new family is the decline of Beesley's mother's life due to Alzheimer's disease. Beesley's reflections show how she grows and refines her values during both wedding preparations and the early days of the marriage. It will have wide appeal, not only to brides and their mothers but also to women in all stages of life who are grappling with issues of aging parents, relationships among birth families, in-laws, and new families. Both humorous and sensitive, Something New is highly recommended for public libraries.--Kay L. Brodie, Chesapeake Coll., Wye Mills, MD Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385720458
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/15/2001
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Amanda Beesley is the author of a series of columns, "My First Year of Marriage," for Self magazine. She now lives with her husband, Nicky, and their dog, Emma, in New York City.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

The Engagement

For unmarried people in love and still on speaking terms with their families, holidays bring on difficult choices. The boyfriend and girlfriend want to be with each other, but both sets of parents want their still-single children home for one of the last family dinners before they go off and start building families of their own. After all, the empty-nested parents hint, it's their celebration too; and without their grown-up babies to share it with them, the holiday couldn't possibly be the same. Everyone can be flexible some of the time: Thanksgiving, for example, is always negotiable; birthdays can be celebrated a week late; anniversaries are important only every ten years or so. But the big holidays are always trouble. Unless the in-laws-to-be are living down the street from each other, someone is going to wind up compromising. And it always seemed to be us.

Although we'd been together for almost three years and living together for one, Nicky and I were planning, as usual, to spend the holidays with our respective families. After two years of missing each other as we unwrapped presents on Christmas Day, we decided to break with tradition and have our own celebration a few days early. We purchased a Christmas shrub from the guy selling trees on Second Avenue, dragged it up four flights to our little apartment on the Lower East Side, strung it with lights and goofy ornaments from Chinatown, and made a date to exchange gifts on Friday night, the day before we were leaving town to go to my parents' house in New Hampshire--and three days before Nicky would fly back to New York for Christmas with his folks.

At the time I was working as a legal secretary. After getting back from writing school in Virginia, I'd decided not to return to my day job in publishing so that I could work at night instead, the idea being that this brainless job would leave time in the mornings to write the one-act play that was going to launch my brilliant career as a brilliant writer. It seemed like a good idea at first, but after a few weeks the precious mornings dissolved back into sleep, and by the time I was up and dressed I had only an hour for myself before I had to go to the law firm again. The work wasn't easy, either. I resented making photocopies and chipper small talk for the lawyers, and I wasn't making headway as a writer during my free time. I was miserably aware that something in my life needed to change. Maybe that's why, over the previous months, I had become increasingly fixated on the idea of getting engaged. I didn't think it would suddenly make a difference in my writing career, nor did I want or expect Nicky to start taking care of me financially. But at least getting married would show initiative and progress in an otherwise stagnant life. I began to pepper Nicky with stinging hints about wanting our relationship to "move on" and veiled threats about what might happen if it didn't. We had been together for three years, and I was turning thirty in ten short months. People were beginning to ask me when I was going to get married, and instead of telling them to mind their own business, I had started to wonder myself.

When the Friday of our pre-Christmas festivities came around, I had had a typical night on the job. My assignments included running downstairs to pick up a law partner's dinner; typing a term paper for another attorney's coed girlfriend; and, for the last two hours, sitting bleary-eyed in front of the computer while a visiting lawyer painstakingly dictated an endless list of names for me to print as labels and stick onto file folders. It was clerical hell, but all was forgotten as soon as I arrived home. Nicky had arranged a spread of all my favorite pastries from De Roberti's Pasticceria on First Avenue, set out biscuits for our puppy, Emma, on a separate plate, and chilled a bottle of champagne in an ice-filled plastic tool bucket.

We sat on the floor by the winking shrub, drinking bubbly, eating cannoli, and listening to the Elvis Christmas album. It was exactly the way we would have done Christmas five days later if we had both happened to be orphans. I gave Nicky his gift, an antique dress sword from the Civil War, a symbol that he, a writer as well, would always have backup for his mighty pen when times got rough. He loved the present and was genuinely moved by it--suddenly we were both on the verge of tears--but there was a gravity in the air that had nothing to do with my sentimental Christmas card. Out of nowhere we were acting strangely formal with each other, and although I wasn't thinking about getting engaged that night, I have to admit I wasn't not thinking about it either. Nicky handed me a large, fraying, water-stained cardboard box, tied with a ribbon. This turned out to hold a smaller package, which I unwrapped to reveal a beautiful antique silver jewelry case. This, I assumed with a mixture of disappointment and relief, was my Christmas present. Good, I thought. Everything stays the same. And then: Damn. Everything stays the same.

It would not be the first time I thought that Nicky was about to propose to me. Right before I left New York for my yearlong stint in graduate school, he took me to a fancy restaurant in Brooklyn and insisted that we be seated by the window so that we had a magical view of the Manhattan skyline. It was a perfect setup for a marriage proposal: candlelight, champagne, and a "ladies' menu" with no prices on it. My impending departure had me feeling that anything could happen, and I began to imagine that there were plans afoot. I thought I saw the waiter give us a knowing look. Nicky seemed slightly nervous. We had drinks and small talk, appetizers and dreamy looks, main courses with hands held under the table. As the meal went on, and Nicky started to seem a little more relaxed, I realized I might be on the wrong track. Finally, halfway through dessert, I blurted out, "So you're not going to propose to me, right? So I can just calm down?" Nicky was stunned. It hadn't even occurred to him. I felt like a jerk.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2000

    Great book!

    This is a must read for anyone who is newly married and wants an intelligent perspective on the trauma and joy involved. I respect Beesly for telling it like it is and also inspiring hope and humor in the bargain. Excellent and thought provo

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2000

    So True!

    As a newly married wife I bought this book after reading a review and was not disappointed in the least. I couldn't put it down. I'm grateful to know that some of what I am experiencing is described in this book which makes it somewhat easier to go through now. It was a wonderfully written book & I would not be the same had I never read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2000

    Smart, fun, and fresh: a terrific book

    I read this book on the recommendation of a friend, and I couldn't put it down. It's truly moving -- both in its hilarious honesty about marriage and its poignant description of losing a parent -- and an absolutely perfect present for any new bride (like me).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2000

    A wonderful book!

    I saw the USA Today review of this book last week and went online and bought it. I read it in one sitting, then I gave it to my daughter who got married last summer. It's more than just a book about weddings, it's a book about life. I highly reccommend it.

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