Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book Review: Arranged

By Melissa Amster

The topic of arranged marriages is something I'm familiar with from my Jewish heritage. I personally can't attest to them, but I know they had them back in the day. (Think "Fiddler on the Roof.") There are still shadchens (matchmakers) who operate today to arrange a proper shidduch (match for marriage). In Orthodox Judaism, there are also shorter courtships and engagements, as a couple is not supposed to so much as hold hands until they marry. So, the concept of Catherine McKenzie's latest book, "Arranged," interested me because it was about an arranged marriage. True, it was done in a different way and had nothing to do with religion or culture. Still, it was a fascinating story and nearly impossible to put down.

Anne Blythe, fresh out of a long term relationship, comes across a business card with her last name on it. She pockets it for luck and goes on her way to meet her friend for drinks. When her friend later announces that she is engaged, Anne decides to contact the company, which she assumes is a dating service. Much to her surprise, she finds out that they specialize in arranged marriages and are both confidential and expensive. She decides to go through the series of tests and they find her a match. Over the course of one week in Mexico, she meets and marries the man with whom they have paired her, much to the shock and concern of her family and friends back home. After a few weeks of marital bliss, Anne learns a new truth about her husband that changes everything about their marriage. Can she still fall in love after her trust has been betrayed?

I loved everything about this novel. It was fresh, clever, funny and Anne was so easy to relate to, even though I probably fit more into the role of her best friend. It's not often that an author can help me get inside a main character's head so well that I feel like I am that character while I am reading the story. The supporting characters are also well written and realistic and the dialogue is natural and honest. I even enjoyed the pop culture references peppered throughout (such as one about a V.C. Andrews novel). I have been recommending it to my friends even after reading the first 30 pages. I think anyone who wants a good dose of chick lit with an extra helping of substance will devour this novel in one sitting.

For an opportunity to win a copy of "Arranged," check out our interview with Catherine McKenzie. Trust me, you will want to win this one! (Giveaway is open to US/Canada residents only. Ends January 16th at midnight EST.)

1 comment:

The Book Chick said...

I'm so glad that you enjoyed this one as much as I did, Melissa! I really think that you'll enjoy "Spin" if you ever get a chance to read it. I loved that one too.