Monday, January 16, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Toss the Bride

Macie Fuller is an assistant to the most exclusive Wedding Planner in Atlanta. While “tossing brides” (getting them married off and out of the firm’s hair) pays the bills, dealing with the various sub-species of Bridezilla is sometimes overwhelming. To find a way of dealing with their quirks and peccadilloes, Macie assigns each a name based on their most outstanding characteristic - the horse bride, the greedy bride, the pink bride. Capable of managing the most explosive wedding situation, Macie is thrown when her long-term boyfriend Avery proposes. What follows is a captivating first novel by Jennifer Manske Fenske.

I was immediately enthralled by an excerpt of the first chapter and had to read to the conclusion even though "wedding lit," a sub-genre of chick lit, isn't my usual preference. Such is the strength of this fun tale. Macie is a lovably flawed heroine, desperate to plan her own wedding while at the same time being disgusted by the excess of the weddings she plans for “the brides.” In a telling comment, Macie reflects that rarely does she know the groom’s name, as most society brides don’t visualize their marriage, rather only the wedding. Manske Fenske counterpoints this dearth of grooms by humanizing Avery, fleshing out his story to a degree not often found in chick lit novels.

The weakness found here is that secondary characters often appear as caricatures or cardboard cutouts. By reducing their stories to amusing anecdotes and clichés to serve as a backdrop for Macie’s reflections on weddings, relationships and life, Manske Fenske missed an opportunity to add depth and resonance to these reflections. The novel would have been strengthened by exploring the human side of the various brides and Macie’s relationship with her future in-laws.

Filled with southern warmth and charm, Toss the Bride is a delightful entry in the ever-increasing chick lit market. The reader is quickly invested into Macie’s story and worries along with her as she contemplates becoming yet another rabid “Bride.” I look forward to reading Jennifer Manske Fenske’s sophomore effort and to watch her development as an author.

See my review as it is published at Armchair Interviews: Toss the Bride

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