This novel is the product of a post-50%-divorce-rate world. Joy’s parents are divorced and remarried and divorced again. Both are set to remarry during the current wedding season, as are fifteen of her other friends and relatives. That many weddings in one season would make the staunchest romantic blanche, but Joy does not believe in marriage. We see glimpses into the fights and the disillusionment with both of her parents that follow their divorce, which give us insight into this belief. Joy has found, at a wedding no less, a man who also disbelieves in marriage. They cohabitate and seem generally happy. Their sex life is ok, she says. They seem like warm toast together: comfortable, but not too exciting.
Enter the ultimate aphrodisiac: another woman in the form of Ora Mittelman, vampy memoirist who has done and seen it all and has no problem searching for the right guy under another woman’s nose. After many weddings, a fight with one of her friends over her belief that marriage is stupid and outdated, and agonizing over what is going on between her man, Gabe, and Ora, Joy agrees to marry Gabe. Why? We’re not sure. We don’t even see the actual proposal.
The why is illuminated for us by Joy’s lesbian best friend, Henry, who tells her not to marry Gabe because she is doing it for the wrong reasons, to keep at bay the fear that Gabe will leave. Joy, Henry says, believes in marriage more than the rest of them, which is why she can’t marry. Whatsit? Because then when the relationship dies, because it will, she will be crushed. Hmm. She seems crushed already. She is too fearful to ask her significant other about a woman with whom she thinks he is having an affair, she alienates her friends to bolster her own belief that marriage is for the deluded, and she created a company that does ghost writing, including ghost written love letters. Seriously. Therapy anyone?
The novel is fun in its humor, but the ending left me unsatisfied. I didn’t need a happy ending, although Cosper tries to give one. I also didn’t need a BS ending about liberation and freedom from someone who clearly is burdened with some major childhood issues. Cosper wants a character who stays true to her principles, but misses a lesson in her own story–that principles can change as a person grows. There is no real growth for Joy, which is sad. (Sorry, couldn’t help it).
Fun until the last three chapters.