You don't pick up a Sophie Kinsella novel expecting stellar writing, critical insights or piercing analysis. Her newest, Wedding Night, is true to the franchise, offering nothing more (or less) than an amusing beach read.
The British blockbustress is the very successful author of, among other novels, the Shopaholic series, a set of books cementing the image of modern young women as avaricious, horny consumers of all things shiny and expensive.
Wedding Night also features a twit of a heroine in Lottie, a 33-year-old with a vague-ish career in magazines. As the novel opens, Lottie is expecting her boyfriend Richard to propose to her in a restaurant.
She's so certain he'll pop the question that she has bought an engagement ring for him. This being a Kinsella book, he does not propose, and Lottie goes off the deep end.
She meets up with her young love, Ben, who reminds her they'd once vowed to get married if they were both single at 30. Despite all good sense, and motivated by hormones and a hurting heart, Lottie decides to have a quickie wedding, then fly to Greece with Ben.
They'll skip the courting and go straight to the wedding night. They are unbothered that they haven't seen each other since the brief fling when they were kids.
Every Kinsella heroine has a foil, and Lottie's is her sister, Fliss. (Anyone who can come up with these names deserves her millions.)
Fliss is horrified at the turn of events and conspires to block both marriage and honeymoon. One of the novel's most delightful scenes involves the staff at a luxury hotel preventing the couple from consummating their marriage. From a room with no beds to a massage with peanut oil for the very allergic Lottie, it's slapstick fun.
Of course, Fliss decides to fly to Greece to talk sense into her sister. She's accompanied by Richard, the heart-breaking boyfriend who has decided to grow a set and marry his girlfriend.
Along for the ride is Lorcan, Ben's friend and would-be best man. Fliss falls for him, because that's what happens in Kinsella's fictional worlds.
Some of Kinsella's depictions of the women are cringingly awful. They're in a permanent state of arousal, not able to think beyond the next shag.
Lottie is a half-wit who, with the insouciance of all the author's protagonists, lies to make matters more palatable. It seems impossible she or her older sister could hold down jobs, let alone commit to an intelligent, adult relationship.
But if one wants psychologically accurate depictions of marriage, one reads John Updike. If one want a few hours of escapism and a few chuckles, Wedding Night is a good bet.
Free Press columnist Lindor Reynolds has never been to Greece, nor is she tempted to look up her high school boyfriend. He was lovely, though.