Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book Review: Becoming Mrs. Walsh

By Melissa Amster

Two things initially attracted me to Jessica Gordon's debut novel, Becoming Mrs. Walsh, right away....the main character's name is of Hebrew origin and it takes place in Washington D.C.. However, there's much more to this novel than those two surface items that earned it brownie points from me. Soon, I found myself completely swept away and thinking about the story all the time.

Shoshana "Sho" Thompson is from the midwest and raised by a mom that likes to keep things simple and organic. When she moves to Washington DC and meets Drew Walsh, she is soon swept up into his family's extravagant lifestyle once he proposes to her. Her future sister-in-laws are in her business all the time and her future mother-in-law spoils Sho as if she's her own child. While she feels like she doesn't fit in, Sho knows she could learn to live with the wealth and privilege. When Drew shuts himself off from her in favor of work and she becomes attracted to a man who is very much off limits, she has to decide if it's worth becoming Mrs. Walsh if she's not going to be truly happy.

Jessica Gordon's writing style is engaging and genuine throughout the entire novel. Shoshana feels like a real person in the way she thinks, talks and conveys emotion. I'm sure she's not the only bride-to-be who has ever been in a dilemma concerning her future husband. However, even if you haven't been in her shoes, you can feel her anxiety over the decisions she has to make. I really liked the interactions between Shoshana and all the other characters in the story. Sho's relationship with Birdie, her future mother-in-law, really stood out to me, as it reminded me of my relationship with my mother-in-law. (All for good reasons though.) I couldn't relate on the sister-in-law level, as my sister-in-law is so easy to get along with and the most I have to worry about "measuring up" is in my cooking and how observant I am with Judaism. However, I could imagine it being difficult to feel so awkward around people who are so put-together, as I feel that way in general sometimes. Jessica uses a reasonable amount of description, but makes everything easy to visualize and doesn't hit you over the head with it either. It enhances, instead of detracts from, the story. I also enjoyed the armchair adventures in various parts of the story. It was fun to feel vicariously rich and pampered for the duration of the story.

While there were three other Walsh women in the story, only one of them (Zoey) really had a back story. Rachel and Ariel were there either because Sho had a kinship with them or because they were around to make things stressful. Rachel did have more dialogue with Sho, but it still didn't reveal anything about her as much as add to Sho's situation. I think Jessica could have easily revealed more about them without taking away from the main plot. Especially since she shares a lot of details about them on her website. Aside from that, I felt the ending was a bit anti-climatic after all the build-up and that it almost ended abruptly, or at least it could be seen that way. Maybe that's just me being selfish and wanting to read more, but a lot of tension and excitement happened in the last 10% of the book (according to my e-reader, that's where it really happened). I also got confused sometimes and would read "Sho" as "She." After a while I got used to it though.

I've been recommending Becoming Mrs. Walsh to my friends and am confident everyone will enjoy it as much as I did. It was a page turner from beginning to end and I had a hard time "putting it down" (given it was on my PC Kindle). I have a feeling Jessica Gordon is going to make a name for herself with Chick Lit! And at $2.99 for Kindle, it's a great deal!

Being the movie freak I am, I even cast the five Walsh women in my head. (Becoming Mrs. Walsh would make for a great chick flick, after all.)
Shoshana: Emma Stone (she's a little young for the role, but I think she can pull it off) or Jessica Stroup (Silver from 90210). I think both would fit the part really well!
Rachel: Rachel Bilson
Zoey: Zooey Deschanel
(I know it's a first name thing, but I pictured these two women the entire time.)
Ariel: Brooklyn Decker (She's probably way too young, but she totally looks the part)
Birdie: Holland Taylor

(It will be interesting to see if Jessica agrees with these choices in her interview.)

Thanks to Jessica for the e-book in exchange for an honest review. She'll be giving away some e-books worldwide during her interview this week!

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