I think I've had a date to almost every wedding I've ever attended (apart from the one where I was a flower girl, and even then I found a guy to dance with all night long). Even when I was invited to one with a guest after being newly single, I brought my gay best friend. (We were, however, seated at the most boring table.) So while I don't know firsthand what it's like to attend a wedding unaccompanied, I could still relate to five characters portrayed in "The Singles," by Meredith Goldstein....even the guys!
Beth a.k.a. Bee's wedding day is here and she doesn't know where to seat five guests who have chosen not to bring a date, even though they were invited "with guest." Hannah is one of her bridesmaids, who is trying to avoid an ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend, while also showing him what he missed. Vicki would rather be immersed in a V.C. Andrews novel than deal with social situations where she has to explain why she's not working at her dream job. Joe is trying to prove himself to his brother and sister-in-law, who think he's irresponsible. Phil is standing in for his mother, who is not feeling well enough to attend, but other things distract him from the festivities. And then there's Rob, who is too focused on the only girl in his life--his dog--to be there for his friends. As Bee's big day unfolds, everyone comes together in ways they never expected and their lives will change as a result.
I first have to say that Ms. Goldstein had me at the name V.C. Andrews, as I was addicted to her books for a long period of time. When I started reading the story, I felt like Ms. Goldstein had crawled into my head, as she had Hannah casting people in her life with actors and actresses. I love casting books, so I felt a kinship with her. She also had Hannah talking about something that I had discussed with a friend recently and knew that other women thought what I did. Ms. Goldstein confirmed this belief through Hannah. In the meantime, there were all sorts of things that I was expecting to happen, but it never got predictable. When I'd think something was going to happen the way I wanted it to, she'd throw a huge curveball my way. It kept me on my toes and wondering what would happen next. There was terrific use of detail that made me feel like I was right in the middle of the action. I could visualize things perfectly and even hear everyone's voices. I really liked the mood that was set throughout the story. And for even more brownie points, she set it in Maryland. The area of Annapolis that was depicted made me want to visit the capital in real life.
This is Ms. Goldstein's debut novel and while I liked a lot about it, there were some things I wanted to shed light upon so she can keep it in mind for future novels, which I hope she's working on already. I noticed a bunch of spelling and grammatical errors, as well as inconsistencies that made me go back to check that I wasn't missing something. There were a lot of flashbacks, which may have added to that confusion, as well. Also, while I could tell that Ms. Goldstein was either a V.C. Andrews fan herself or did a lot of research on her books, she also said that the main character in "Secrets of the Morning" (named Dawn, just like one of the characters in this book) was a dancer. However, Dawn was a singer. (Sorry, but I had to get on my V.C. Andrews high horse for a moment!) Even though I liked the guys' perspectives as much as the girls' sides of the story, I would have liked to see more chapters involving the girls' thoughts (even though one of the girls was an unreliable narrator at times.) I also would have liked to hear more of Bee's side of the story, since she was the bride. It would have been interesting to hear her view of everything going on around her, as she did get caught up in some of the drama.
Overall, this was a great story from a fresh new voice in chick lit. It was easy to get caught up in the characters' lives, both in their past and present forms. Everyone seemed so real and weren't afraid to show their flaws and shortcomings. I liked the interactions between the characters as their lives started coming together. I think this story has good chick flick potential and I would like to get in Hannah's casting director shoes and pick who I'd want as the main characters. (If this does get made into a movie and I was right, then I'll have the blog post to prove it!)
Bee: Bryce Dallas Howard
Hannah: Emily Blunt (she suggested it and then the image stuck)
Vicki: Aubrey Plaza (April from Parks and Recreation)
Joe: Greg Kinnear or Steve Carell (Scott Bakula was suggested in the book, but we can't go back to his Quantum Leap days anymore.)
Phil: Jason Segel
Rob: Ryan Gosling
Finally, I found out Ms. Goldstein will be in my neck of the woods soon, and I hope to meet her, as I find it empowering to be in the presence of such writing talent!
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