Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Girls in White Dresses

Girls in White Dresses
By Jennifer Close
Alfred A. Knopf August 2011
292 pages 

Girls in White Dresses revolves around the wedding years. Do you know what I mean by that? If you do, you are likely in your twenties just like the protagonists in this novel, Lauren, Mary, and Isabella. During this time in your life, you spend a lot of time attending bridal showers and then weddings and then baby showers. This season of life elicits many different reactions – jealousy, boredom, anger, drunkenness, the desire to beat a bridezilla over the head with her bouquet…

Isabella is frustrated to be working under a woman who is younger than her and puzzled as to why friends set her up with truly bizarre men. Lauren wonders what to do with herself during the days when her friends work and she waits to work the dinner shift at the bar/restaurant with that sleazy bartender she definitely should not sleep with again. Mary is finishing law school, and wondering if school and then her job will leave her any time to spend with her friends or to date.

“No one had told her it would feel like this. She’d gotten so much advice about her first year at a law firm, but no one had ever said, “You will be constantly afraid.” And that’s what she was. She was afraid that someone would come to her with work to do, and she was afraid that no one would come to her with work to do. She was scared that she was missing something in her research. She went over each assignment she was given, and then she was terrified that they would all think she was slow. Whenever someone said ‘case law’ or ‘document review,’ her first instinct was to hide under her desk.
Sometimes, just as she was finishing up one project, feeling like she’d accomplished one thing, someone would come to her office to give her a new task. She was sure she was failing.”

I could refer to this novel as smart chick-lit, but does anyone even call it chick-lit anymore? The good news – this book is easy to read. Breeze through it in a weekend afternoon sort of easy to read. The other good news? If you are somewhere between the ages of 22 and 32 and of the female gender, you will likely find yourself nodding your head in recognition many, many times throughout this book. Ms. Close has written a really good debut and I’m excited to see what she will do next.

The only complaint I have is that while the novel is anchored by Mary, Lauren, and Isabella, the chapters often revolve around their friends. It sometimes takes a while to figure out who this person is and which girl or girls she is friends with, and by the time you have figured these things out, the character will show up in the book no more.

This leads to a sort of jumble in your head of names and situations, which is ok. I don’t think this is the sort of book you read over and over again, whilst referring to your favorite character. Instead, this book confirms the desperate hope that you are not alone in this bizarre adventure known as your 20s. This book is a really good quick read - the women are all relatable as they look for their dream job (or any job), the love of their life (or just a stinking date!) and try to hold on to their friendships as they are pulled in a million different directions. 

1 comment:

  1. I liked this book--but didn't love it, mostly for the reasons you put out there. It was difficult sometimes to figure out who people were or why we were reading about them...then by the time I started to figure it out and like them, that character disappeared!

    I did think the cover was pretty excellent, though.