While Rosie’s weddings are the ultimate in romance, Rosie herself isn’t; she’s focused on the details, not the dramas. But when the hotel owner appoints his eccentric son Joe to the Bonneville staff, Rosie finds herself up against an unprecedented challenge: a rival whose predilection for the unconventional could derail not only Rosie’s own career, but the most elaborate, high-profile wedding the Bonneville has ever seen.
Comment: I saw a reference to this book in a best-of list from 2014. Since then I bought the book but of course it has been languishing in the pile until a few days ago, when I finally started reading it. I have to say I did like it,despite one or two things I'd change.
In this story we meet Rosie McDonald, an events planner in a hotel in London but in truth she occupies herself the most with weddings, since the hotel is a perfect venue location. Rosie is very professional and she wants to control everything, not only because she wants to do her job well but also because she feels better if she has it all under her control.
This means meeting Joe Bentley, one of the sons of the hotel's owner and someone quite different from her on her views on how to make a wedding ceremony perfect, things start to become too complicated around her. It will take Rosie some time to make changes in her life so that she can live instead of just going through the motions...while at the same time giving the brides who seek the hotel the expectations they have.
I'd say this book is very clearly a chick lit styled story, more focused on the life of the protagonist and the situations she sees herself in. I guess it's close to woman's fiction because most of the conflict comes from Rosie's feelings about herself and what she is doing with her life and not as much the (silly/comedy) interactions with others.
But I liked Rosie's voice even if - and this could have been done better I think - her personality was a little too bland. She was very controlled, the same way I would consider myself to be, actually, so it was nice to see how she would evolve. But that is the problem, her change or evolution or coming to terms, whatever one might call it, wasn't obvious and meaningful. We have some sentences with her thinking this and that but her life per se wasn't changed in a significant way.
At the same time, I liked the simplicity of this novel. I liked Rosie wasn't a crazy woman doing unlikely or pointless things (like many chick lit heroines) to stand out.
When some conflict situations happened, I also liked how she dealt with them, which shows her stable POVs and attitudes. The problem is that too much makes her feel a little boring. I actually wouldn't have minded if the author had ramped the angst level in specific situations (not the relationship one) just to better present emotion.
As for her job skills, I did like how the author made her feel very competent and caring about what she was doing, even if some characters around her weren't characterized as attentive.
The secondary characters don't seem to have as much personality since we only have Rosie's POV and some situations did feel very limited because of that. It's not that great to have first person narrator you know..., so many of the interactions between characters emphasized some things and not others and of course that was the only way for us to know some things which means, again, reductive.
Still, I liked to see Rosie's friends being an important part of the journey and I was glad there weren't many of them to be distracting.
There's a supposed "vibe" about Rosie and Joe. They are at odds with each other about how to see weddings and their meaning and how they should be performed but that's to accentuate the fact they might be a good case of opposites attracted. Rosie is in a relationship when the story starts and she has baggage so I did love the fact nothing instantaneous happens between them, but when things change and it does it doesn't feel "cheap" or only convenient. But perhaps a few more scenes of them debating their feelings more obviously would have been better.
All in all, this is a very obvious British styled novel, meaning, one can recognize many elements common in novels written by British authors or set in the UK. Sometimes, the style is too heavily obvious that the story feels "hijacked" but this time the British flavor felt just perfect.
This is not the best story ever but I had a great time and I can understand why its balance could justify its presence in people's best of lists.