Amanda’s Wedding is a fun affair for a first novel – a bit flawed, but shows promise. It’s worth it for some great one-liners and ironic observations and I plan to keep it just for the laughs. I can warmly recommend this book whenever you’re in the mood for a light, humorous romp, but you need to be willing to overlook some plot and character problems for it to work.
Mel, the narrator, and her best friend Fran hear that their worst friend, Amanda, is getting married. (The cow.) Marrying Amanda is a fate far worse than they’d wish even for their most dreaded enemy. But Amanda is not marrying their most dreaded enemy; the unlucky groom is nobody else than sweet Fraser, who used to be the object of Mel’s affection back in university. He certainly does not deserve to be shackled to Amanda, who only wants him because he’s a laird anyway. The situation warrants desperate measures and the friends set out to sabotage the wedding with the help of Fraser’s brother Angus, who doesn’t like the match any better than Mel and Fran. Besides the wedding they have to deal with Alex, Mel’s current boyfriend who’s got some serious commitment issues; her roommate Linda who just might suffer from an eating disorder; Nicholas, an icky accountant; and Charlie, Alex’s pal who attempts to do something quite nasty.
The ending was bittersweet for me because for quite some time I was unsure about who the hero is going to be, Fraser or Angus. (I won’t reveal it because it would ruin the ending.) Sometimes this is a problem if you find yourself rooting for the guy who doesn’t get the gal in the end, which happened to me with this book. It might mean the hero is a bit bland or maybe it’s just my weird taste when it comes to men. Angus starts out as rude and shy but turns out to be a likable best buddy type. Fraser has very foolishly gotten himself involved with an evil shrew but if we overlook that little indiscretion he’s sensitive and kind. Basically they’re both all right which made me sorry to see the other one go lonely. I guess this is why many authors end up choosing the easy way out making the rival for the heroine’s love villainous just to avoid this sort of ambiguity.
Amanda is the snobbish, bitchy girl friend you’d love to hate, complete with lots of money and glittering PR success. In Amanda-speak, “darling” means “inferior acquaintance,” and there are absolutely no redeeming characteristics in her. You may have met her before in some other novel; she’s somewhat like a parody of a stereotypical romance villainess. Fran is a more complex and more interesting character; her behavior is not always acceptable but she’s not vilified like Amanda. Her secondary romance is certainly something off the beaten track. Alex is a problem as he’s so repulsive it makes Mel’s obsession with him pathetic and hard to understand, even if it gives rise to a few funny remarks. But simply- too-awful exes seem to be a romance convention because it makes it easier to celebrate the smallest virtues of the heroes.
Thanks to her farcical humor, Jenny Colgan manages to pull this less than heroic plot off better than I expected. Seriously, if I suggested sabotaging the wedding of an old flame I hadn’t seen in years, my best friend would probably look at me pityingly, tell me to get over it and get a life. If not for the humor and the fact that she’s somewhat redeemed by realizing her own childishness, Mel’s plans to stop Amanda’s wedding might seem just too tacky and jealous.
All in all, Amanda’s Wedding is a funny, fluffy debut by an author I’m going to watch in the future. If you enjoy the post- Bridget Jones contemporary romps about single women, you might want to check it out.