The Singles

( 7 )

Overview

Take an instantly recognizable social dilemma—attending a wedding alone—add a good laugh (and maybe a cry), and meet The Singles, the warm and witty debut by Boston Globe “Love Letters” columnist Meredith Goldstein.

Beth “Bee” Evans’s first vow as a bride is that everyone on her list be invited to bring a guest to her lavish, Chesapeake Bay nuptials. When Hannah, Vicki, Rob, Joe, and Nancy one by one decline Bee’s generous offer, the frustrated bride dubs them the “Singles,” ...

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The Singles

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Overview

Take an instantly recognizable social dilemma—attending a wedding alone—add a good laugh (and maybe a cry), and meet The Singles, the warm and witty debut by Boston Globe “Love Letters” columnist Meredith Goldstein.

Beth “Bee” Evans’s first vow as a bride is that everyone on her list be invited to bring a guest to her lavish, Chesapeake Bay nuptials. When Hannah, Vicki, Rob, Joe, and Nancy one by one decline Bee’s generous offer, the frustrated bride dubs them the “Singles,” adrift on her seating chart as well as in life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This debut by Boston Globe “Love Letters” columnist Goldstein chronicles the wedding of lawyer Bee Evans and Matt Fee from the viewpoints of five protagonists—dubbed “The Singles” by Bee—who each decline to bring a guest to the nuptials. The book starts out as the stale story of college friends shakily navigating adulthood—frequent flashbacks from the day of the wedding reveal trite plot points, like bridesmaid Hannah Martin’s clandestine hookup with Syracuse University buddy (and fellow Single) Rob Nutley, who proves himself a flake when he doesn’t show up at the wedding, leaving Hannah to face her old flame, Tom Keating, without the welcome distraction of Rob. Vicki Clifford, another college pal, lends Hannah support despite needing some herself.The plot picks up substantially once noncollege folks enter the mix. Forty-something Joe Evans, Bee’s uncle, is attracted to the much younger Vicki and spends the reception with her imagining a different outcome than she does. These additions transform what could have easily remained a generic slog through old friends’ unresolved love lives into a relatable tale with good momentum. Despite a few tired chick lit tropes, readers won’t regret accepting Goldstein’s invitation to mingle with these Singles. Agent: Katherine Flynn, Kneerim & Williams Agency. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
“Anyone who's ever attended a wedding solo, will feel an immediate kinship with the five, wonderfully complicated characters of The Singles. Meredith Goldstein's witty prose follows these guests as they gather to celebrate, reunite with friends, drink too much, dance inappropriately, worry about their careers, struggle with jealousy, and negotiate family dynamics. This book is full of dark humor and heart, and you won't want to put it down.” -Jennifer Close, author of Girls in White Dresses

"For anyone who has found herself hitting a wedding solo, Meredith Goldstein's The Singles is a charming debut novel—and a thoroughly enjoyable plus one." -Laura Dave, author of The First Husband and The Divorce Party

“Realistic and romantic by turns, The Singles totally captures the alienated feeling you get when you're stuck at a wedding without a date—and the accompanying hope that maybe you'll meet someone special there. This novel is a sheer delight.” -Claire LaZebnik, author of Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts

"This smart, witty debut takes the original approach of turning the spotlight on five people who attend a wedding alone. As it turns out, these vivid, endearing characters have the very best stories to tell." -Sarah Pekkanen, author of These Girls

“A relatable tale with good momentum . . . [R]eaders won't regret accepting Goldstein's invitation to mingle with these singles." -Publishers Weekly

“Charming . . . Funny and sad with easily identifiable characters.” -Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal
The bride and groom are not the focus of this wedding novel, in which five single guests complicate the seating chart. The bride, Beth "Bee" Evans, asks her invitees to bring a partner, but these five attend on their own. Three of these singles—Hannah, Vicki, and Rob—went to college with Bee. Hannah is apprehensive about seeing her college sweetheart for the first time since he left her, while Rob, who has to follow the wedding via phone calls while caring for his sick dog, won't admit his feelings for Hannah. Vicki, meanwhile, is suffering from depression and travels to the wedding with a seasonal affective disorder light. The bride's uncle is also flying solo, although he makes every attempt to pick up a younger copilot. The fifth single, Phil, wasn't even invited; he's filling in for his mother, a friend of the groom's parents, who has taken ill and has been keeping a secret from her son. This wedding is transformative—especially for those who've chosen to decline their plus one. VERDICT This will interest fans of wedding fiction and chick lit and will have local appeal in Boston, as Goldstein is the author of the Boston Globe's "Love Letters" column.—Karen Core, Detroit P.L.
Kirkus Reviews
Five unmarried guests manage to come together—and fall apart—during an upscale wedding at a Maryland country club. Unconvinced that there is any upside to being a bridesmaid, New York City casting director Hannah nonetheless feels a sense of obligation when her dear college friend Bee requests her services. Aside from the bother of having to buy a special halter bra for the occasion, singleton Hannah is anxious about seeing her ex Tom, who will be there with his new girlfriend, a guidance counselor named Jaime. Staying with Hannah is another college friend, Vicki, a creative type with a dull corporate job in Rochester. She also has a mild case of depression that she combats with a special sunlamp she carries around in a guitar case. Vickie and Hannah's Texas friend Rob, alas, is a last-minute no show for the wedding, although his presence is missed. A laid-back underachiever with a tendency to disappoint people, Rob carries a torch for Hannah, although his only commitment is to his dog Liz, a rescue mutt with epilepsy. Through texts, he gets a play-by-play of the event, while struggling with his own mixed feelings—and a sudden emergency. To calm her pre-wedding jitters, Hannah mixes a couple of mystery pills (offered by the controlling matron-of-honor, Dawn) with alcohol, and proceeds to make a fool of herself during the inevitable confrontation with Tom, who remembers the end of their relationship far differently than she does. Inebriated as she is, Hannah catches the eye of Phil, a strapping young man who is only attending as a favor for his sick mother. And Vicki bonds with Bee's uncle Joe, a successful, divorced businessman from Las Vegas with a thing for wistful young brunettes. Funny and sad with easily identifiable characters, Boston Globe advice columnist Goldstein's debut makes the most of some very familiar scenarios. Charming wedding farce with a bit of depth.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452298057
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/24/2012
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 396,687
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
Bee wanted the perfect wedding; she got the "Singles."

Back in her single days-before she met the man of her dreams-Beth "Bee" Evans hated being forced to attend weddings solo. Determined to spare her friends the same humiliation, she invites everyone on her list with a guest. Much to her chagrin, however, Hannah, Vicki, Rob, Joe, and Nancy insist upon attending Bee's lavish Chesapeake Bay nuptials alone. The frustrated bride dubs them the "Minus-Ones" and their collective decision wreaks unintended havoc on her otherwise perfectly planned wedding weekend.

One of today's most popular relationship columnists, Meredith Goldstein, has penned a sparkling debut novel that chronicles the promises and disappointments of love and friendship with humor, compassion, and wisdom.

ABOUT MEREDITH GOLDSTEIN

MEREDITH GOLDSTEIN is an advice columnist and entertainment reporter for The Boston Globe. In addition to "Love Letters," she co-writes the paper's society column, "Names." She lives in Boston.

A CONVERSATION WITH MEREDITH GOLDSTEIN
Q. You’re the Love Letters columnist for The Boston Globe. How did that inform your writing? Were you able to use any situations you’ve advised people on in that capacity in the novel?

Despite the fact that I spend eight hours a day reading people’s dramatic love problems and advising them about what to do next, my column didn’t influence the book - at least not as much as I thought it would. I think that’s because I write Love Letters with my head on straight. In Love Letters, I’m the voice of reason. But when I stepped into the minds of my Singlescharacters, I could be irrational and erratic. I could be oversensitive and cruel. I tried to compartmentalize as much of my Love Letters brain as I could while I was writing the novel. I was Meredith Goldstein, the girl who’s been to (and flipped out at) dozens of weddings alone, as opposed to the Meredith Goldstein who always knows what’s best.

Q. Was it difficult for you to make the switch over to writing fiction since you’re a journalist by day? How was the process different for you? Do you prefer one to the other?

It was more challenging than I thought it would be. After writing about a third of my first draft of The Singles, I suddenly realized that my characters hadn’t spoken yet. I was afraid to make up dialogue, because in journalism you would absolutely never, under any circumstances, make up a quote. It took me a while to realize that I could make these characters speak, and that writing fiction allowed me to be a puppet master. And as it turns out, I love being a puppet master. I love being a journalist just as much, but this experience was wonderfully freeing.

Q. Did you find yourself drawn to any of the characters in particular? Was there any one you were especially rooting for while you were writing? Did you draw from your own romantic experiences for any of the characters?

A few major and minor characters are based on men who broke my heart, and I have to guess that they’ll know who they are when they read the book (assuming they do). As for my favorite characters, well, I love Rob, of course. He’s magnetic, and I have a weird, fictional crush on him (even though I’m allergic to dogs). But at the end of the day, I’m always thinking of Phil. It’s hard not to root for him.

Q. What are you working on next? Will we meet The Singles again?

I’m working on a book about love and science. That’s all I can say right now. And yes, we will absolutely see some of The Singles again. I can’t imagine letting them go.g

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • For much of the beginning of the novel, Hannah is imagining what might happen when she sees Tom again at the wedding. What do you make of her fantasy in light of what you learn about their breakup later on? Other characters in the novel have similar fantasies about what may or may not happen to them at the wedding –– what do these daydreams reveal to you about the characters?
  • Jackie, one of the other bridesmaids, breaks up with her boyfriend after discovering that he’d been stealing from her, although she continues to pay down his debt without trying to track him down. The author writes: “She’d rationalized that she deserved to pay the price of overlooking the one crime she was trained to catch.” What do you make of this kind of thinking? Are any of the other characters in the novel prone to a similar kind of rationalization?
  • What were your first impressions of Dawn? What do the other characters in the novel think of her? Did your opinion of her change over time? Did she surprise you in any ways?
  • Consider Vicki and Joe’s initial meeting from both characters’ perspectives. How do they misinterpret one another? Are there other examples of this kind of misinterpretation in the book? In what ways is this novel about communication––or the lack thereof?
  • What do you think of the novel’s structure? Do the various viewpoints of “the singles” allow you to shape a different understanding of the situations at hand than you might have if only one character narrated?
  • What kind of techniques does the author employ to draw the reader into this group of friends? How does she make the characters relatable? Did any details in particular ring true for you?
  • Discuss the various romantic relationships in the novel. Which ones do you think will work out? What about the others? What is it that ultimately keeps people together or drives them apart?
  • What do you think really keeps Rob from attending the wedding in the first place? How does what happens to Liz compel him to fly to Annapolis?
  • Describing the group of friends at the wedding. the author writes, “They laughed uncontrollably and never got bored of each other...and even though they’d coupled off by twenty...it always felt as though the twosomes were just part of a greater whole.” Have you ever experienced a friendship like this? Do you think it’s possible for friendships like these to continue after the end of college? How does the novel deal with the difficulties and nuances of “growing up?”
  • What are your thoughts on the end of the novel? Did it leave you feeling hopeful for the characters? What do you imagine will happen to them next?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2012

    Cute

    This book was actually pretty cute. It was a quick read but the ending wasn't very fulfilling

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2012

    This book is laugh out loud funny!!

    This book is laugh out loud funny!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 20, 2012

    Five single people attending a wedding without a plus one, a bri

    Five single people attending a wedding without a plus one, a bride who is quite unhappy with their decision and somehow all of the singles are separated like 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon! How can you not fall in love with this book? There are five people who decided against bringing a plus one even though the bride insisted - this book is about their stories, why they are single and why they decided not to bring someone to the wedding.

    Each character has a few chapters each in their own voice to help bring the reader from the bachelorette party to the invitations to the wedding while giving enough of a back story for the reader to appreciate why they were invited to the wedding. The connections between the characters is what made this story even bigger and better than the synopsis could make it out to be.

    As I plan my wedding, I loved reading about how guests may be linked to each other in more ways than one. It made me rethink how all of my guests may know each other besides knowing me or my fiance.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2014

    Sadly, this book was disjointed and I couldn't get behind any of

    Sadly, this book was disjointed and I couldn't get behind any of the characters. Okay, maybe the guy who didn't attend the wedding, but it made me wonder WHY they were even following him at all until the end. And Vicki?? Really, completely unrelateable. As one who has been a single at plenty of weddings, I don't recall ever behaving in such a disgraceful fashion as they do in this book. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2012

    Looking forward to her next book

    I adore "Love Letters" in the Boston Globe, I hope this was an appetizer to more entrees!

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  • Posted August 9, 2012

    Loved it!

    Fun to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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