Author: Sophie Kinsella
Bantam Press RRP $32.95
Review: Monique Mulligan
A lighthearted, easy read was the order of the day for me following several heavier reads and Sophie Kinsella’s latest book, Wedding Night, called to me from the bookshelf. I pretty much got exactly what I expected from it – laughs, giggles, Kinsella’s trademark impulsive heroine and impossibly silly situations. So, it surprised me that I didn’t love it. I liked it, but it was more on the OK side for me – it was good to pass a few hours (and that’s all it took to read), but nothing memorable.
In a marked departure from most of her other books, Wedding Night is told from the perspective of two sisters, rather than just one, as Kinsella fans would have grown to expect. The blurb leads readers to believe that the story is Lottie’s, however, it is as much her sister Fliss’s story as Lottie’s. A much-anticipated proposal kicks off the story … or rather, the lack of proposal does. This scene was genuinely funny. Lottie is sure her long-term boyfriend Richard is going to propose when he takes her to a restaurant, saying he has a big question to ask. When he doesn’t (and is genuinely surprised that she expected it), Lottie ends the relationship and embarks on her usual post-break-up ritual of doing stupid things (tattoos and cults have already featured on this list). Of course, when old flame Ben reappears in her life and reminds her of their pact to get married if they were both still single at 30, Lottie doesn’t see his suggestion as absurd in the slightest. It makes perfect sense! As she recalls, their relationship was pretty lusty while it lasted and come to think of it, Ben looks pretty good these days. They resolve to marry ASAP but Lottie has one big condition – no sex until the wedding night.
When Lottie’s older, near-divorced sister Fliss hears of the impending nuptials, she’s appalled. Still reeling from her ex-husband’s unfaithfulness and his increasingly unreasonable behaviour, Fliss thinks Lottie is crazy. Why can’t they just have sex and get it out of their systems? Why does Lottie always have to do something stupid every time she breaks up with someone? Once again, it’s Fliss to the rescue. She teams up with Ben’s best friend, Lorcan, and the two try to stop the wedding. When that fails, Fliss focuses her efforts on sabotaging the wedding night, for if the newlyweds don’t consummate their marriage, Fliss reasons that they can get an annulment. What follows is a slapstick, sitcom-esque series of events as Lottie and Ben try to make their wedding night one to remember. And thanks to Fliss, it is – just for all the wrong reasons.
Wedding Night started off really well. I giggled my way through the non-proposal scene and settled in for a long comfort read. However, as the book progressed, the laughs and giggles slowed; I found this one markedly less funny than some of Kinsella’s other standalone books such as Twenties Girl, I’ve Got Your Number and The Undomestic Goddess. Some of the ways Lottie and Ben’s wedding night were spoiled were quite funny (Teletubbies anyone?), while others just seemed too much. Cringe-worthy even. Of course, I kept reading – it was still entertaining enough – but on the laughs aspect, this one was more of a miss than a hit for me.
Choosing to write from two viewpoints was an interesting move. I didn’t have a problem with it; it was a refreshing change and it did fit the way the story worked. Fliss’s viewpoint added a touch of reality to the story – many Kinsella novels are pure escapism and while her heroines are cute and funny, we can’t really imagine ourselves acting quite so ridiculously or stretching the truth anywhere near as far. Again, I liked that – it’s good to escape sometimes, but I like the added depth gained through Fliss’s perspective. I found that, as an older sister myself, I related more to Fliss in some ways. However, while I admit to driving my kids crazy with my
nagging helpful advice, I tend to hold back when it comes to my siblings. And I would never have interfered in my sisters’ lives like Fliss took upon herself to do. So, while I could relate to Fliss more than Lottie (I could imagine acting like Lottie even less than I could imagine being interfering like Fliss), there came a point when I just wanted her to back off. What I think she was doing, in her well-intentioned way, was trying to regain control of something (such as Lottie’s life) because she had lost control of her own. Ultimately, I think she was the character who developed most, while Lottie’s situation just resolved.
If you just want a light, cute read, Wedding Night ticks the boxes well enough. It’s amusing romantic comedy that doesn’t ask too much of the reader; all you have to do is go with it.
Bookish treat: Honey-coated Greek donuts … Mmmm.