Review: Girls in White Dresses — Jennifer Close

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To Go: 14

Book List
81. The Next Always — Nora Roberts
82. The Single Girl’s To-Do List — Lindsey Kelk
83. The Heart of Devin MacKade — Nora Roberts
84. The Fall of Shane MacKade — Nora Roberts
85. One on One — Peter Mansbridge
86. Girls in White Dresses — Jennifer Close

Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat minuscule sandwiches and doll-sized cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contentwith: Isabella is working at a mailing-list company, dizzy with the mixed signals of a boss who claims she’s on a diet but has Isabella file all morning if she forgets to bring her a chocolate muffin. Mary thinks she might cry with happiness when she finally meets a nice guy who loves his mother, only to realize he’ll never love Mary quite as much. And Lauren, a waitress at a Midtown bar, swears up and down she won’t fall for the sleazy bartender — a promise that his dirty blond curls and perfect vodka sodas make hard to keep.

Firstly, thank you to Sharanja for the loan. And now I must preface this review by saying that I loved the book. I really, really loved it and the humour in it was fabulous. However, I do have a few complaints.

SPOILERS! The description on the side flap was almost completely inaccurate. I’d expected the book to revolve around those three plot lines, but they didn’t. Isabella left her filing job within the first hundred pages and her bizarre boss was only mentioned a couple of times. Mary’s issue had a mere chapter devoted to it, and then it was resolved. Also, she wasn’t as much of a main character as the flap would have you believe. And Lauren spends approximately five seconds debating whether she should sleep with the skeevy bartender before she does it. She’s dumped by him two pages later, and by the next chapter he’s not involved in the plot anymore. There were more important storylines in Girls in White Dresses that were not even hinted at, and I don’t think that was fair.

Also, I found the way the narration was done to be really, really confusing. Only two of the three main characters were given a legitimate introduction, and Mary barely came into play until the last third of the book. There were girls who were given whole chapters whose plots had almost no relevance to the book at all, other than to show that they got married (or, in some cases, didn’t — which then completely eradicated the necessity of giving them the chapter), and that the marriages may have been difficult on Isabella, Mary, and Lauren. Not to mention that I don’t think enough attention was given to fleshing out character, so I didn’t know who I should like or feel affinity for until the last third of the book.

I keep mentioning the last third, which is because I think that’s where Close did her best writing. I was confused and floundering around in the dark up until that point, and then it suddenly became much, much better. There was obvious focus, characters I could relate to (or, if not relate to, at the very least like), and so much humour. I could not stop laughing — it was so, so funny.

So yes, I did like it. But it took me a while to like it.

Also, I’ll treat you guys to my favourite quote:

“If he were a different person, maybe this wouldn’t have been so shocking. But he wasn’t. He was Mark. He wore suits that Lauren was pretty sure cost more than the rent for her apartment. He sent back bottles of wine at restaurants after he’d tasted them and declared them ‘off.’ She’d never met his family, but she was sure that they would be horrified to learn what Mark did with his macaroni. Could she date someone who attacked pasta like this? She watched him closely each time he did it, sure that she was witnessing something deeply personal and telling. It was like watching him masturbate, but Lauren couldn’t turn away. It was fascinating, disgusting, and delightful all at once” (Close 260).

There were about twenty more funny moments that I wish I could’ve included. But this was the best of the best.

Next book: something short.

– Kelsey

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