Rating: An infinite quantity of bacon. As good as bacon itself.
Confession: This is my favorite book of all time. I can quote long passages and snort with hilarity over them despite repetition. If I had to pick one book forever, it wouldn't be the life-affirming A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or the ambitious allegory East of Eden (both of which I adore) but this one--the snarky, bittersweet, romantic look at marrying for the first time in one's thirties. So I may be just slightly worshipful of the tome, its author (I want to have her babies), and its distinctive, biting voice. If you want unbiased, go elsewhere cuz Diva loves her some OE.
Premise: The interior monologue of Eve, an advertising executive with a rocky relationship history, as she plans her wedding to Michael, a once-divorced commitmentphobe.
The Quote (If this doesn't hook you, trust me you won't enjoy the rest of it):
And those Harvard researchers? The ones who claim a woman is more likely to be kidnapped by terrorists than to be married after age thirty-five? May they fall into open manholes where hard body lesbians with blowtorches await them. I am thirty-six years of age.
Backstory: This is a thinly-veiled account of author/ad exec Suzanne Finnamore's engagement to Mark Feingold (their fertility struggle and the birth of their son are chronicled in the sequel The Zygote Chronicles, which is much more melancholy in tone). The third tome in this trifecta is called Split, the journey of their divorce. I haven't read it--I responded to the second one like a trauma victim so I'm not sure I can handle it. So if it bugs you that their relationship doesn't end with HEA ultimately, just try not to think about it.
Review: Eve yearns for, hints for, demands a proposal from Michael ("The free introductory trial period, I tell him, is over."). Then she commences therapy to reconcile her sense of impending doom with her belief that she has "won" by getting engaged.
Some of her observations are quirky but she strikes at the heart of things.
"This ring is my one time lump-sum payment for every bad thing that has ever happened to me. I don't feel I can tell people this because they will ruin it." She says, going on to detail her troubled relationship with her late father, a charming but selfish alcoholic, and an ex she refers to only as The Semi-Professional Basketball Player, who was an abusive addict who tried to strangle her. It ain't all hearts and flowers in Finnamore-ville, ladies. There's a darkness here and a poignance that make her wry self-awareness hit home.
Anecdotes involving her friend Jill are the most hysterical, in particular a rant in which she characterizes specific antidepressants as wizards and fairies.
We follow Eve on a business trip, wedding gown shopping, and to the deathbed of her former gym teacher/gay recovering alcoholic artist Dusty whose Southern drawl makes his dialogue even more immediate and priceless.
She shares wisdom such as, "When you are planning a wedding everything costs a thousand dollars, except the things that cost more than a thousand dollars. The band, for example. The guitarist was in Ray Charles' touring band. Ray Charles is referenced, therefore it costs one thousand dollars."
Her doubts both about her own ability to become a wife and her level of emotional damage are resonant and unflinching, and her humor makes the insight bearable, even delightful.
The depth of Eve and Michael's love is never questioned, although they both question the wisdom of marrying and fear failing at marriage. It is the truly romantic and uplifting ending that makes me choke up every time.
I love love love it.
I also need to buy a new copy because the friend I loaned it to cannot find it. It was falling apart anyway.
Enjoy, my lovelies. As a Halloween treat.