June 13, 2012

Arranged - Catherine McKenzie

I may have ranted once or twice (or more) on this blog about my dislike for what is affectionately known as Chick Lit.  (Probably the 3rd link best describes the reason for my dislike.)  However for some reason, I will still occasionally pick up a book of Chick Lit.

A few weekends ago, I was looking for some fluff to read.  I have been reading lots of non-fiction this year (partly course-work reading), and it was a beautiful summer weekend for reading out on the deck.  And so I picked this book up off of my TBR stack.

Actually, this book had been an impulse airport purchase a few weeks prior to reading it, as I was worried that I was going to finish the book I was reading at the time before I got home.  I didn't.  It caught my eye at the airport bookstore, as I had heard the author interviewed a year or so ago by Shelagh Rogers on CBC radio; and the fact that her main character is named Anne Blythe caught my attention (yes, Anne of Green Gables still ranks near the top of my Favourite Books of All Times list).

This book reminded me of why I will still pick up the occasional Chick Lit to read.  I didn't hate the main character (she was actually quite self-aware - very rare in Chick Lit; not whiney; and had a life outside of the romance story line).  It was funny at times.  It wasn't overly formulaic - in fact, the prerequisite wedding happens half-way through the novel rather than at the end.

The twist on the Chick Lit genre here is that the main character (the aforementioned Anne Blythe) realizes that she has terrible judgement about men, and so connects with an Arranged Marriage service and follows it through.  There is a plot twist in the second half which I'm not going to reveal here, but let me just say that I didn't see it coming.

And while the personality of the main character is nothing like that of her namesake, I did enjoy all of the Anne of Green Gables references through the book.  Her mother is a bit of a fanatic - it is even suggested that she married Anne's father just because his last name was Blythe.  The fact that Anne's brother is named Gilbert should say it all.  Here's one of my favourite passages (a conversation between Anne and her arranged husband, Jack):

"What was it like growing up named after a character in a book?" Jack asks as we linger over dessert.
"It was harder for my brother, Gilbert.  He had girls following him around, hoping to play out some romantic scenario they'd read about."
"Doesn't sound too bad."
"That's because you're assuming hot girls are obsessed with Anne of Green Gables."

Anyways, this was a perfect summer-time deck read on a weekend where I was looking for something mindless and enjoyable.  I'll keep Catherine Mckenzie (whose day job is as a lawyer in Montreal) in mind, next time I am tempted to pick up some Chick Lit.

1 comment:

Niranjana (Brown Paper) said...

I'm with you on chicklit; if I were (forced) to read one, I think this would be it. It doesn't sound half bad.