A poorly considered betrothal to a loathsome man falls apart in a not-particularly-interesting fashion in this debut from a child model and occasional comic.
As much as its musings about being a 29-year-old single woman in Manhattan seem like leftovers from the last five novels of its ilk, Hruby did come up with an unusual occupation for its main character—wholesale fish buyer. Catherine Lacey is on the verge of marrying Steve, a monied, arrogant bastard of a lawyer who’s desperate to make partner and is increasingly dismissive of Catherine’s wants and needs. As Catherine’s narration incessantly reminds us, she grew up blue-collar: gutting fish, hanging out with dockhands, and having no-strings affairs. This doesn’t sit well with Steve as the two get closer to being married, and the resulting pressure on Catherine is creating some big rifts in their relationship. Pretty soon the wedding’s off. Even though this is what she wanted, Catherine is conflicted, having the not-entirely-incorrect feeling that she’s one of the last women in her circle of acquaintances neither married nor on the verge of it. Hruby’s tale seems to think of itself as a light and entertaining read about relationships but takes itself much too seriously for that to work. In a novel where little is going on in the way of plot, the narrator needs to have an interesting inner life, or at least an engrossing conversation or two. But instead of interiority, Hruby offers only more background data about Catherine—ladled up in lumps and dollops throughout—as if hoping in this way to endow her with breath and life. It just doesn’t happen.
Seems to be not much of anybody home here, though actual inhabitants may not always be a requirement for the single-girl-in-the-city genre.