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