Ah, how the other half lives. I used to read Danielle Steel books and dive into a world of pretty people and pretty settings, and glitter, glitter, glitter. Now, however, I demand a little more substance from the books I read, and find the dive into her world is a bit too shallow for my tastes.
The perfect marriage of Simon Steinberg and Blaire Scott is pure Hollywood. Simon is a very successful film producer, and Blaire’s sitcom “Buddies” has been a ratings topper for years. Furthermore, they have been happily married for decades and have three delightful children; Allegra, an entertainment lawyer, Samantha, a teenage model, and Scott, the son who wants nothing to do with showbiz and is studying pre-med at Stanford. But you know what they say about “all that glitters” . . .
The center of our story is Allegra, who has had a long-term relationship with lawyer Brandon, a litigator who specializes in white-collar crime and who is one of the biggest jerks I have read about all year. He’s been separated for two years and is doing next-to-nothing to finalize the divorce, while his wife and daughters remain completely dependent on him. Twenty-nine year old Allegra hopes for a marriage like that of her parents, but it doesn’t look at all promising.
On the home front, Simon and Blaire’s marriage is beginning to disintegrate. Blaire’s sitcom fails to win a Golden Globe, something that hasn’t happened in nearly a decade. Allegra finds herself babysitting the new “It” girl, Carmen Connors, much to Brandon’s resentment, and plays matchmaker to Carmen and her old friend Alan. But it is during a trip to New York that Allegra’s life changes.
In New York, Allegra meets Jeff Hamilton, a writer who instantly falls in love with her and who represents the commitment Brandon refuses to make. Still, Allegra won’t give up Brandon until the day she discovers just how little she means to him. However, just as she finds happiness with Jeff, a family crisis involving Samantha threatens Allegra’s wedding plans.
Allegra puts up with way too much where Brandon is concerned. It is crystal-clear that he will never make a commitment to her but she keeps making excuses for him. He belittles her work, won’t go to awards shows with her, and treats her like an intruder when all she wants is to spend time with him. Overall, he makes her look like a doormat for putting up with him. I know we’re supposed to be following her growth from wimp to empowered woman, but she just put up with too much and the journey is much too long. Even when she finds out about his cheating, which should have surprised no one, she is just a little too passive, whereas I would have immediately flung something heavy at him and kicked his butt out of my sight.
Although Jeff is obviously the better of the two men in Allegra’s life, he’s too timid when it comes to his mother, a rude, bitchy, anti-Semitic woman who hates Allegra on sight for no real reason. (I predict that Allegra is not only going to keep seeing her therapist, but they’ll be adding a marriage counselor at some point.)
Furthermore, some of the elements in The Wedding either don’t ring true or call for major suspense of disbelief, and considering that they aren’t at all necessary to the story, I was all the more surprised. At one point we are asked to believe that a nursing mother’s breasts have enlarged to topless-dancer proportions when, prior to pregnancy, she was flat as a board. We all know women whose busts grow immensely during pregnancy and nursing, but this was a comical increase. Also, how likely is it that in Hollywood, no one would know that a certain teenage model is the daughter of two of the most powerful people in showbiz? Just because Samantha uses her mother’s maiden name doesn’t mean no one would know. In Hollywood, everybody knows everything about everyone! Finally, there is no Golden Globe category for the Best Producer of a Feature Film – that’s what the Best Picture award is for.
If you like to read books where everyone is gorgeous and names like Valentino, Ferre, and Dior are thrown about, then The Wedding might be one you like. Me, I don’t mind the glitterati, but I like some decently drawn characters to go along with the glitz.