OTHERWISE ENGAGED by Suzanne Finnamore


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A chronicle of a bride’s engagement ultimately becomes a kind of wedding favor. In all probability, people (women especially) like to recall the months preceding their weddings mainly because they—re so impressed that they survived them. Our unnamed narrator is a good example: She opens her story with her fiancÇ Michael’s proposal and closes it with her wedding, along the way providing a warmly excruciating account of every bump in the road linking the one to the other. A 36-year-old ad copywriter in San Francisco, the bride-to-be has known Michael for three years and lived with him for six months by the time he gets around to popping the question. He’s ten years her senior, a divorced marketing director with one daughter from his previous marriage. Naturally, both bride and groom are scared to death. She still suffers from the memory of her mother’s disastrous marriage to her father, a drunken Presbyterian preacher who eventually lost all his faith in God and most of it in himself. As for Michael, he still cries every time he hears his daughter refer to her stepfather as “Daddy.” On a less extreme level, there are the usual arguments and recriminations; the inevitable mother-in-law angst (—Ilene told me that women have to act like the man is smarter, even though he’s not, and they have to act like the man is stronger, even though he’s not.—); and the inevitable break-off that gets patched up in short order. Most of the trouble, though, is in the myriad trivial details that surround the significant change in the bride’s life. But her shrink Reuben helps talk her through everything, and all her friends pitch in with support until the big day arrives. And then, of course, she’s on her own—almost. Good-natured if unremarkable fun that veers dangerously close to the tear-jerking sentimentality Erma Bombeck made into a career. Not likely to be reread very long after the honeymoon. (First printing of 75,000)

Pub Date: May 12th, 1999
ISBN: 0-375-40652-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Knopf
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