The Good Bride Guide by Matt Dunn
|The Good Bride Guide by Matt Dunn
|Category: General Fiction
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris
|Summary: Flipping the 'girl seeks guy' cliché on its head, this 'guy seeks girl' tale is both funny and endearing, and a jolly good read.
|Date: October 2009
|Publisher: Pocket Books
As he approaches a milestone birthday, Ben begins to think back on his old relationships. While none of them seemed right at the time, he's not quite sure that the other option – his current single status – is really any better. With a good friend about to enter into an arranged marriage, Ben has the by this point predictable yet wacky idea that he needs the same thing – a nice young woman hand-picked for him by his parents. After all, who knows him better than they do?
Except, lovely people though they are, they're not exactly what anyone would call 'with it', as their early attempts at matchmaking clearly show. Has Ben made a huge mistake in enlisting their help, and encouraging their meddling? Is single life really that bad? Should he just swallow his pride and go crawling back to his most-recent and rather evil ex, and grovel for another shot?
If this were chick-lit of the normal kind, the answer would be predictable, with him meeting a nice girl, probably right at the last minute, though potentially someone he has known all along but overlooked until now, and sailing off into the sunset with her. But this is bloke-lit, so things aren't so simple. Ben is a nice enough character whose situation you can certainly empathise with, but he's a definite bloke under all his new-man pretences, and that's where things begin to get interesting. Gone are the clichés, in come the jokes and in the end we're left with a story as much about human nature as about love.
I'm not sure this would be the great read it is if it were written by a woman or had a girl in its starring role. I'm not being disparaging of my female friends, but that sort of story has been done to death, and therefore even a fresh take from a new author would come off as a bit samey. And yet, there is nothing repetitive or been-there-read-that about this title. It is a slick piece of writing that will probably appeal more to the ladies than the lads, but part of that is down to the insights into the male species it so deftly delivers, i.e. for exactly the same reasons that boys read Cosmo.
The book is not perfect. There were certainly a few too many dad jokes for my liking, and I thought some of the observations were more long winded in their detail than they needed to be. But, overall, I very much enjoyed it, and while it wasn't un-put-downable, it was certainly one I took every opportunity to pick back up, keen as I was to follow the story to its interesting and satisfying end. This is a great read that is easy without being simplistic, and sufficiently complex (as per real life) without being a struggle to wade through. Add to that that it's not half funny, with a decent mix of slapstick, embarrassing relatives, witty one liners and almost sensitive humour, and you have a book that certainly comes recommended.
Thanks go to the publishers for sending us this title. We also have a review of Dunn's The Accidental Proposal.
Nick Hornby and Mike Gayle are other great male writers who appeal to both men and women. Why not check out A Long Way Down or The Life And Soul Of The Party? Alternatively, for more on arranged marriages and the impact they have on all those involved, try Love Marriage which introduces us to the highs and lows, set against the stunning background of the Sri Lankan civil war.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Good Bride Guide by Matt Dunn at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Good Bride Guide by Matt Dunn at Amazon.com.
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