Review of “Arranged” by Catherine McKenzie

Anne Shirley Blythe has grown up thinking that her life story would follow the arc of the Anne of Green Gables series. She even has the same red hair, green eyes, and freckles. But she is now 33, and has yet to meet her perfect match.

When her best friend becomes engaged, she decides to take a radical plunge and signs up with an agency that arranges marriages. And this premise is what made me want to read this book, even though this genre [sort of modified chick-lit] is not my usual cup of tea. Arranged dates are common; but arranged marriages? Loads of plot possibilities!

Anne does go through with an arranged marriage, and there are some very interesting complications, although until the marriage, the book dragged a bit for me. Afterwards, however, it became quite intriguing, and I enjoyed the insightful comments about relationships along the way:

“Wouldn’t it be great if you could videotape people during a breakup? Wouldn’t it be great if you could have access to that videotape at the beginning of a relationship? Look how this guy’s going to be treating you in six, eight, ten months. Look how he treated the girl he spent three years with! Run away, run away!”

On the advantage of marrying a friend instead of someone with whom you are in love/lust:

“‘Maybe it’s harder to make it work if you start out in love,’ Jack says.

‘Why do you think that?’

‘Because if things change, you remember how they used to be, and you’re disappointed. If you don’t have any expectations going in, you can’t be let down.”

[Anne has a similar thought when analyzing her own reactions to romance:]

“I know why I’m scared of love. It’s because that’s when it always starts to go wrong. When it starts to deviate from the fairy tale. After the happy ending comes . . . disappointment.”

Could an arranged marriage, based on friendship rather than romantic love, conceivably be a better approach to navigating a world in which reality generally trumps ideals? … a world in which relationships beginning with romance can rapidly switch from rabid hormones and fun dates to diapers and vacuuming and financial disagreements?

Evaluation: This is a little better than a light beach read. The beginning is a bit too stock to be interesting, and the ending a bit too predictable, but I enjoyed reading about the possibilities of an arranged marriage for those who opt for it voluntarily. One does, however, have to suspend temporarily one’s objections to a female character who wants to be married more than anything else.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2011

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11 Responses to Review of “Arranged” by Catherine McKenzie

  1. Beth F says:

    Just the thought of reading about someone who thinks being married is so important that she’d find a modern-day matchmaker is too much for me. If you marry, great; if you don’t, equally great. Sigh.

  2. As much as we may object to a character like that, there are plenty of them in real life and I’m related to at least one of them, I’m sad to say.

  3. I think I’m probably too attached to my concept of the original Anne Shirley to read a spin-off like this.

  4. Stephanie says:

    I loved the Anne of Green Gables series, but this doesn’t sound like my cup of tea. I enjoyed your review! And I definitely agree with your last sentence.

  5. Julie P. says:

    Pretty much agree with you on this one! It had its moments though!

  6. Not my tastes but sounds fun!

  7. stacybuckeye says:

    So there are reasonable men and women around who want a complete stranger to arrange marriage for them? Where are these people? Like you, I get the dating services, but an actual death-til-you-part ceremony? Gives me shivers just thinking about it.

  8. Jenners says:

    Sometimes I think arranged marriages (done based on compatibility) would be just as successful (or even more so) than those based on “love.”

  9. Rachel says:

    Interesting premise – definitely one I haven’t heard of before!

  10. zibilee says:

    This does sound a bit more unusual than a lot of the chick-lit that I have read before. I have never really heard of an arranged marriage like this, and think this would be a fun book to explore. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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