Showing posts with label madeleine wickham. Show all posts
Showing posts with label madeleine wickham. Show all posts

Monday, April 13, 2015

[Review] The Wedding Girl - Madeleine Wickham

In WEDDING GIRL, Milly Havill gets married at age 18 to help a gay friend be able to stay in the country. After they married, she never saw him again. Ten years later, she's engaged to Simon, a wealthy heir to a Smoothie Franchise and has all forgotten about her first marriage. But when someone that has witnessed her first wedding turns up right in time to ruin her second one, she has to face her past.

This is the second novel of the author under her real name that I've read and I'm starting to realize why she decided to write under a pseudonym. Just like THE GATECRASHER, the novel is told from multiple point of views and is full of super unlikeable characters. I'm the first person that is all for adding a fresh breath of air and making your characters anti-heroes, but Wickham's protagonists are walking, unlikeable, unrealistic clich├ęs. After you've read a fair selection of the Wickham novels, you will start to notice that she tends to recycle her characters and certain story elements. 

Poor Execution of a Great Idea

I love the idea of a marriage solely for immigration purposes and I am even more delighted to have that novel feature a gay couple. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with the premise, Wickham lacks extremely in execution. There's pages and pages of dialogue between the Havill and Pinnacle families, the respective bride's and groom's relatives, that only serve the purpose of establishing character relations- well, that's unnecessary! It's very easy to get who likes whom and who hates which character from the first pages on. She established everything perfectly within the first three chapters or something, I don't understand why there's the need for so much exposition and boring dialogue.

Highly Unrealistic & No Fun Read

It's absolutely unrealistic how Milly's first marriage is discovered in the novel. You wouldn't remember someone you met 10 years ago for five seconds, would you? No matter what kind of eccentric hair cut that person had. It feels to me like Wickham just needed a reason and didn't really think about it- there are so many way easier and believable possibilities! She could have let the former groom waltz in; she could have made an official realize that she's already married on paper; or she could have drunkenly confessed it to a friend who in turn told the groom. Everything that I love about Kinsella- the humor, the happy-go-luckiness and the relatable protagonists- is absolutely lacking in this one. 

In her early novels Wickham just wastes potential to no end. There are remarkable back stories, interesting characters, but everything is just told so slowly and boringly that you may risk falling asleep while reading this. This could have been so good, had there been more humor and more heart put into the story. There's no real protagonist that you can empathize with, Wickham just throws point-of-views around like they're confetti and gives every single character their five minutes to shine.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

I don't know if I ever want to read another Wickham novel. I love Kinsella's work, but if you've gone for "The Wedding Girl" because you like Kinsella- you've chosen the wrong book. It will always remain a mystery to me how she managed to reinvent herself so drastically and create a completely new style under her pseudonym.
While I'm complaining a lot, I have to make a fair judgement: Wickham novels are still fairly okay written and light literature, but not just as fun as I am used to being a Kinsella junkie. They are the perfect example that taste varies, I can fairly acknowledge that it's an okay read, but just not my cup of tea.

"At the age of eighteen, in that first golden Oxford summer, Milly was up for anything. Rupert and his American lover Allan were all part of her new, exciting life, and when Rupert suggested to her that she and Allan should get married, just so that Allan could stay in the country, Milly didn't hesitate, and to make it seem real she dressed up in cheap wedding finery and posed on the steps of the registry office for photographs.

Ten years later, Milly is a very different person. Engaged to Simon - who is wealthy, serious, and believes her to be perfect - she is facing the biggest and most elaborate wedding imaginable. Her mother has it planned to the finest detail, from the massive marquee to the sculpted ice swans filled with oysters. Her dreadful secret is locked away so securely she has almost persuaded herself that it doesn't exist - until, with only four days to go, her past catches up with her. Suddenly, her carefully constructed world is about to crash in ruins around her. How can she tell Simon she's already married? How can she tell her mother? But as the crisis develops, more secrets are revealed than Milly could possibly have realised...

What's Your Favorite Kinsella/Wickham Novel?

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

[Review] Wedding Night - Sophie Kinsella

When her Lottie's old flame Ben calls her and reminds her of an old pact they made when she had been only eighteen, everything changes: They promised to each other that they would get married if they're still single at thirty and now they're intending to keep that promise, to the great displeasure of Charlotte's big sister Felicity. 

There's Nothing Like the Love between Sisters

The main conflict in "Wedding Night" is that Fliss, Lottie's older sister, is convinced that it's a bad idea to marry someone that she's just seen again two weeks ago after not hearing a word from them for fifteen years. Because Fliss is so eager on trying to keep Lottie from making another grave mistake, she does everything in her power to prevent her from making them in the first place. On the one hand I'm tempted to say that Fliss is a very controlling and know-it-all kind of character. On the other, Lottie is sometimes portrayed as an extremely naive and wordly innocent woman and I salute Fliss for not losing her temper all the time. I definitely identified more with Fliss, because she's the more mature one, but I'm having a hard time playing favorites.

The tricky thing about the situation is that Kinsella shows us both sides. She shows us how desperate Lottie is to fall in love and how eager Fliss is to do everything in her power to make Lottie happy. Even if her definition of happiness differs from Lottie's.

I think it's definitely an achievement to display both sides so realistically that I felt torn and unable to decide whose approach is the best. I wasn't so sure whether I was on the wedding crasher side or the wedding enthusiast side.

Queen of the Stalling Technique

Maybe it's just me but this novel feels a lot like the movie Mamma Mia, could be only because of the Greek island vacation-y vibe. And just like in every romantic comedy movie, the pacing is bit off in WEDDING NIGHT as well. You can read Kinsella novels almost always in one sitting, because her writing is just so light and easy.
WEDDING NIGHT  has definitely issues with the pacing. It certainly could have all been wrapped up in less pages and stripped down to the essential. Five hundred pages for a chick-lit novel is definitely on the longer side, but I don't see any need for this novel to be this long, because the plot is fairly simple and not complicated at all:

Girl gets dumped. Girl is sad. Girl meets old love. Girl gets married. Sister doesn't like it. 
Sister will destroy this marriage.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

There's many, many better Kinsella novels out there. This one feels like a cheap, hastily written rip-off of other novels she's written with characters that aren't likeable at all. The writing is excellent, but there should have been more work put into the characters and the plot line.

"Lottie just knows that her boyfriend is going to propose, but then his big question involves a trip abroad—not a trip down the aisle. Completely crushed, Lottie reconnects with an old flame, and they decide to take drastic action. No dates, no moving in together, they’ll just get married . . . right now. Her sister, Fliss, thinks Lottie is making a terrible mistake, and will do anything to stop her. But Lottie is determined to say “I do,” for better, or for worse."

Have you tried anything by Kinsella?

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

[Review] The Gatecrasher - Madeleine Wickham

In THE GATECRASHER, professional gold-digger Fleur Daxeny picks up desperate billionaire widowers at their wives' funerals and tries to get as much money out of them as she can before dumping them. When she meets recently widowed Richard Favour and plans on taking all of his money, she didn't expect to grow this fond of his family.

Multiple POVs done well!?

Not many authors can successfully pull off having multiple protagonists and point-of-views in a novel without utterly confusing and annoying the reader. THE GATECRASHER alternates between Fleur, Richard, and different family members. 

Surprisingly, every single protagonist interested me. Sometimes, with different main characters I tend to get bored and pick a favorite, longing for their chapter to begin. But not this time. Wickham is excellent at creating characters and you can clearly tell that a lot of work went into building them. Everyone has their secrets, unique thoughts and desires.  She adds bits of past events so skillfully into the storyline that you don't even notice that you're being fed information. 

I expected Fleur to be the main character, but turns out she isn't really. The novel is more about Richard Favour and his family and what they're all hiding (or not).

More a character study than fun chick-lit

Aside from the main six, Wickham introduces a bunch of old golfer buddies of Emily that I was hardly able to keep up with. She throws around character relations and past events so quickly that I didn't even get who's related to whom. The whole community of Richard and Emily's golf club friends are just portrayed as a bunch of gossiping old couples that are absolutely not essential to the story. Still, it would have been nice if Wickham had bothered to make them a bit more prominent or at least give us an insight in the minds of the few that were actually close with the Favours. 

In the second half of the novel this doesn't get very important anymore, because the novel becomes an in-depth character study of the Favours and Daxenys. There's not really much to say about the plot, it completely centers around "The Maples", the Favour's family estate. Wickham doesn't need anything but the characters' backstories to fuel her story, but at times I wished for a more defined plot. I felt like the novel was going nowhere and essentially, I could have stopped at any time and picked up 50 pages later without really missing anything. 




Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE GATECRASHER has a gossip-girl feel to it. It's all about intrigues, about lying and about trying to deal with consequences. It's not as upbeat as you'd expect a chick-lit book to be and definitely unlike the Sophie Kinsella novels. 
Still, her excellent character development -and building makes you want to continue and find out everyone's secrets. Not as good as Kinsella- but still an average, quick read.

"Everything's coming up roses for Fleur Daxeny, as she goes through more rich men than she does designer hats....if that's humanly possible.  Beautiful, charming, and utterly irresistible, her success at crashing funerals to find wealthy men is remarkable.  But behind Fleur's Harvey Nichols wardrobe, is a woman with a mysterious past. 

Fleur wastes no time in seducing her latest conquest, the handsome and rich widower Richard Favour, and she swoops into his life like a designer-clad tornado.  His children are caught up in a whirlwind as their father's new girlfriend descends on the family estate leaving chaos and excitement in her perfume-scented wake. Soon, more than one family member is suspicious of Fleur's true intentions.
   Fleur is not one to wear her heart on her Chanel sleeves, but she soon finds herself embracing Richard and his lovable family. But just as Fleur contemplates jumping off the gold-digger train for good and enjoying the ride of true love, a long-buried secret from her past threatens to destroy her new family. Fleur is thrown into a race against time to prove herself to Richard before it's too late.  Can she trust her heart or will she cut ties and run away as fast as her Prada pumps can take her?"

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