Tuesday, April 14

Bridesmaids - Jane Costello

At 27, Elvie has never been in love, and doesn't know that she really believes in the idea, at least for her. Her best friend Grace seems to have the real deal, though, and Evie's delighted to be her head bridesmaid, a task that includes wrangling Grace and Ptrick's four year old daughter Polly, and (even harder) wrangling a pair of breast enhancing fillets. It's when the latter have made an unexpected bid for freedom that she first meets Jack, who's not only handsome and interesting, but possibly interested.
For most of its run Bridesmaids is a fairly typical light romance - Evie attends a variety of weddings, her relationship with Jack is plagued by relatively believable hitches, and her career (a budding journalist saddled with the lamest news stories) is important to her life but secondary to the plot. There's the usual 'amusing' hyperbole: "her stress levels have not just been through the ceiling, they've been through three floors, a well-insulated loft and the roof as well." There are a number of allegedly hilarious moments involving the afore-mentioned 'chicken fillets' and a comically large bright blue vibrator among other, though I confess I didn't find Bridesmaids more than mildly amusing.
Over the course of the novel Evie's friendships with the women in her life mature and develop, which is often a key component of the chick lit genre, and it's here that Bridesmaids breaks away from the usual, though not necessarily successfully. There's Valentina, the status-seeking snob who's beautiful and bitchy; Georgia, who's down to earth, generous and wealthy; Grace, who seems to have it all but discovers that marriage is more than a piece of paper; and Charlotte, whose weight dominates every aspect of her life and whose transformation is the most stunning. With encouragement of the whole group Charlotte loses weight through diet and exercise, and in the process blossoms. The only problem is that this blossoming isn't quite as confined as it should be, and once Charlotte becomes the woman she never thought she could be she acts on her long-concealed love for Patrick, sleeping with him and endangering his new marriage to the mother of his children.
In an unusual move, this betrayal isn't neatly wrapped up and resolved by novel's end. Instead Charlotte is neatly excised from the circle, which troubled me both on a friendship level and because of the message I read - fat women can't be trusted to behave appropriately, beware! Beware! Which may be harsh, but readers bring themselves to their reading.
I wouldn't run screaming from Costello's next work but I think there's enough better writing in the genre to keep me occupied without seeking her out. - Alex

No comments: