When the 30-ish narrator of Cosper’s debut announces that she’s scheduled to attend seventeen weddings in the next six months, the reader may wonder if she will prove as charming—and lucky—as Hugh Grant after his four. Sadly, the answers are no and no.
Joy Silverman, a Columbia Law School drop-out who runs a successful freelance writing business with her friend Charles, lives happily with rich, witty, smart, and lovable Gabe. She has a gaggle of woman friends, also smart, witty, and lovable; in fact, Joy inhabits a fictional Manhattan made up entirely of highly educated, witty, lovable—and indistinguishable—young adults with great jobs and plenty of money, an elitist’s version of Friends. But most of them, including Joy’s best friend Henry (Henrietta), who happens to be gay, are getting married in the next months, as are Joy’s mother, father, younger brother, and a lot of other people she knows. Only Joy holds out. Although her love for Gabe is genuine, deep, and deserved, Joy claims not to believe in marriage on principle. When she and Gabe begin to attend the weddings, the novel becomes a guide to wedding styles from traditional to New Age even while Joy spouts ever more virulent antipathy toward the institution. Enter a femme fatale author openly on the make for Gabe. Joy, whose pride in her principles can get tiring, is torn between her natural jealousy and her unwillingness to confront Gabe, and finally, in a moment of weakness, she finds herself accepting his marriage proposal. The thing of interest at this point, as Cosper tries to break with chick-lit conventions, is that we know from Joy’s ensuing misery that she won’t marry Gabe despite his being the love of her life and a wonderful guy to boot. And the explanation ultimately given—that she believes in marriage too much—doesn’t wash.
Some genuine intelligence gets lost in self-congratulation and reliance on one-liners.