Rebecca has chosen the most luscious, five tiered, wedding cake. The engagement ring that she has selected is celebrity inspired. The wedding singer is on speed dial. He doesn’t usually do Michael Bolton, but as it’s for a first dance he’ll make an exception. Father Maguire is checking dates for the parish church as we speak. The deposit on the white sand honeymoon is paid for in full on Barry’s card. She has fallen for an ivory lace couture gown that is to die for. The down payment may require her to sell a left kidney, but it will be worth it. Isn’t that why you have two?
There’s one teeny tiny problem. It’s nothing, really. No need to panic! It’s just that Barry has yet to propose. Says he’s not ready! He can be a bit of a kill joy that way. It’s time to face the harsh reality – Rebecca is a bride without a groom!
Bride Without a Groom is the début novel from Irish author Amy Lynch. I had first heard about it late last year when it had a different cover but now Avon have given it a sparkling make over and Rebecca and her madcap ways are about to be launched onto an unsuspecting public. I normally don't like pink, girly covers but this really is lovely and so apt for the storyline in the book. The title is clever and snappy and right from the get go this book reminded me of both Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella. Well reminded me of their earlier books which were always funny and gripping - I find this is not the case any more. Amy obviously loves reading chick-lit/women's fiction and coming from Ireland she has a wealth of women's authors for inspiration and guidance. This love shines through in her writing in what proved to be a light, extremely easy yet strangely unputdownable read that I raced through in two sittings. Yes there are just a few faults but for a début novel Amy has written a book that readers will gobble up caught up in the wacky world of Rebecca.
The book opens as Rebecca is just about to celebrate her 30th birthday. Having been in a relationship with Barry for four years she feels now is the moment, things need to move forward and for sure he is going to propose. When I first read this I thought oh no I had read a book with a very similar opening only a few months ago and I didn't like the book. But quickly my fears were quashed as Bride Without a Groom turned into a totally different enjoyable, quirky read. Rebecca is a snooper and she has found a velvet box so the tension is palpable as she is presented with her birthday present. When she opens it you can literally feel her deflate, all her dreams and preparations are washed away as sitting in the box is a bracelet. This is the last straw for her and a row ensues. You knew both of them loved each other but Barry seemed to have that fear of commitment that so many men in chick lit books have. But could you blame him? Rebecca is the ultimate bridezilla - the honeymoon is booked, the dress has been selected, the wedding scrapbook is bulging at the seams, she even has the parish priest looking up availability. Rebecca really wants 'the champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget' (what a great line) and is so disappointed when Barry fails to deliver. What man wouldn't want to run away under such enormous pressure? I did think to myself are there really women like this out there? Then I remembered all those programmes you see on t.v and Amy has taken elements of all these women and created Rebecca. A woman who knows what she wants but falls apart when she doesn't get her way.
Barry has the perfect opportunity to avoid further confrontation and facing up to his future by escaping on a work trip to Bangkok with the delectable Shelley. Queue emotional breakdown from Rebecca as she left alone and goes on an emotional downward spiral with the help of takeaways and copious amounts of alcohol. Rebecca's friends Pam and Emer try to help her out of her fog of misery but when your dreams and long term plans have so cruelly gone off kilter you just want to wallow in your pj's. Not hearing from Barry only further ensures Rebecca upset. This bit of the book was good at first but it went on way too long. There were too many pages of Rebecca sitting at home eating and drinking and then going on spending sprees. Ok in the middle of this her night out with Pam was pure classic and the 'incident ' in the supermarket was so vivid and to be honest my worst nightmare but after that there was too much repetition. Rebecca seemed to drink to excess, suffer the next day and make up the lamest excuses not to go to work.
I felt this was the only lull in the book and if it had been cut shorter it wouldn't have bothered me. Also her mum and dad were really under utilised the typical Irish mammy and daddy can provide so many classic laughable moments but for me not enough in this case. One more minor gripe from me but believe me as these complaints are really minor and my own personal opinion because overall the book was really good. But would international readers really get all the Irish references? I mean I did but that's because I live here and they so worked for me in the book. I don't think people would know what Fair City or the RTE Guide was or who Gay Byrne is? So maybe have more well known references in future books. But as I said this was just me.
Rebecca and Barry really are the polar opposites to each other but they did have a deep affection and connection to each other even if Rebecca does ram down her wedding expectations down everyone's throats.They really reminded me of Becky Bloomwood and Luke Brandon. As in Rebecca goes overboard with everything without seeing the consequences of her actions and Barry is the long suffering partner who attempts to keep things in check. At one point I couldn't make Rebecca out, yes she was a wedding addict but at the same time she wasn't dim so why couldn't she have opened up to Barry how she really felt about everything? Ok so this would have made for a much shorter book but if this had happened the angle with Barry and Shelley could have been developed a lot more. Admittedly for a thirty year odd she did need to act her age and start taking some responsibility for herself and her actions. If you want something in the world you really have to go out and get it and be honest in doing so. Interspersed throughout the book are chapters from Barry's point of view which was great to see, as all too often the men in this genre are never heard from and here it enabled me to think ok maybe this is not all Barry's fault. He was pushed away and if pressure is piled upon men they can act in strange ways and do things they will certainly regret. Having spent quite a bit of time detailing Rebecca and her anger at Barry the ending for me was too rushed and I felt the author wanted it to be longer but had a word limit as such. But in contrast to this maybe it will provide for a future book about Rebecca because to me there is more in this story to be told.
Amy has taken all that she loves about chick-lit, rom-com books and the modern day Twitter and Facebook and celebrity crazed age and ploughed it very successfully into this book. Her writing is sharp, witty and bang on and laugh out loud funny. One minute I was cringing at Rebecca's exploits the next chuckling away to myself as bridezilla took over. Amy should be very proud of this book and if she keeps writing in this way she is sure to have a long career ahead her. It's great to have another Irish woman on the writing scene, dare I say a certain author's crown is in fear of being snatched away by Amy. Only the future will tell but in the meantime enjoy this hilarious take on the phenomenon of the bridezilla and their search for perfection for their wedding.
Many thanks to Alice from LightBrigade PR for sending me an e copy of this book to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.