Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Book Review: "Wedding Girl" by Stacey Ballis

Wedding Girl Stacey Ballis
Published: May 3, 2016
ISBN: 9780425276617
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: First To Read
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Foodie fiction, books by Jennifer Weiner, old Romantic comedies, Jewish fiction, inappropriately named dogs, stories in the Shop Around the Corner vein, novels set in Chicago, books with recipes

Top pastry chef Sophie Bernstein and her sommelier fiancé were set to have Chicago’s culinary wedding of the year…until the groom eloped with someone else in a very public debacle, leaving Sophie splashed across the tabloids—fifty grand in debt on her dream wedding and one-hundred percent screwed on her dream life. The icing on the cake was when she lost her job and her home…

Laying low, Sophie moves in with her grandmother, Bubbles. That way, she can keep Bubbles and her sweater-wearing pug company and nurse her broken heart. But when Sophie gets a part-time job at the old-fashioned neighborhood bakery, she finds herself up to her elbows in dough and reluctantly giving a wedding cake customer advice on everything from gift bags to guest accommodations. Before she knows it, she’s an online wedding planner. It’s not mousse and macarons, but it pays the bills. But with the arrival of unexpected personal and professional twists, Sophie wonders if she’s really moving forward—or starting over from scratch...

My Thoughts:
Sometimes you come across a book that is just familiar enough and comforting enough that it feels like coming home.  This is one of those books--what can be more comforting that baked goods and old romantic comedies?  Well, a delightful Jewish grandmother, an unfortunately named pug, amazing best friends, and a spunky heroine, of course!

This book was just a joy to read.  I wanted to live in Sophie's world and I wanted to eat her food and I wanted to give her a big hug.  Let's face it, she is not having the best of days--jilted at the altar, fired from her job, and $50K in debt, but she doesn't wallow as many characters (or as I) would do.  Instead, she finds ways to turn her life around even as she deals with the fall out of her situation.

Sophie isn't the only bright spot in this book--all the supporting characters are well-drawn.  Sophie moves in with her grandmother, who is a spitfire in her own right.  Meanwhile, her hippie parents, who have been together, although not married, for over 40 years start to face their own life challenges which, thanks to new and enterprising new friend, Sophie finds herself more involved in than she would like.  I especially enjoyed her best friends--while they are always there for Sophie, they also have their own lives and their relationship with Sophie doesn't seem unbalanced, which frequently happens between main and supporting characters.

Ballis's writing style is a delight.  In many ways, she reminded me of Jennifer Weiner, who is one of my must-read authors.  She weaves in just enough humor to keep the narrative light, but not so much that it discredits the more serious parts of the book.  I realized that I actually have another book by Ballis in my TBR and I'm going to make a point to get to it sooner rather than later.

This is another book that uses the Shop Around the Corner trope.  If you aren't familiar with that play, other works in the same vein are the musical She Loves Me and the romantic comedy You've Got Mail.  Because of that, I have to admit that some aspects of this novel were a predicable.  However, I do like those kinds of stories, so I really didn't mind that much.

This was a truly delightful book--a fun read without being saccharine and touching while not being maudlin.   I highly recommend it to just about anyone with a foodie, empowered, and/or romantic itch to scratch.

I received an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review.  I received no other compensation for this post.

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