Prompted by Kate and KB, I succumbed to the glossy temptation of Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet. While I’ve never been one for the traditional bodice-rippers, I’ve got a fair amount of Jane Green/Marian Keyes/Emily Giffin/Lauren Weisberger/Jennifer Weiner chick-lit under my belt, and I usually enjoy every predictable word. I say this to assure you that, as I cracked open Vision in White (Book 1), I wanted to love it. Four best friends with distinctly different hairstyles, people named things like Delaney and Emmaline, silly metaphors for sexual acts… What’s not to love?
Sadly and probably unsurprisingly, I have many complaints, the least of which is Roberts’ incorrect usage of “hook up.”* Skip the timing (they meet on Jan 1st and get engaged mid-March… really, Nora? REALLY??) and the overwhelming wedding minutia (WTF is a pomander anyway?), and the schmaltzy-waltzy dialogue. I must admit that I signed up for the suspension of disbelief, the preposterously whirlwinded fairytale and even all the wedding mumbo-jumbo.
What rang incredibly false, and what I was really hoping would ring true, was the depiction of female friendship. There’s a scene early in the book where the friends (they are also business partners) are congratulating themselves on a job well done and they toast, to themselves, for being “damn smart women.” I cringed, I literally cringed. Have you ever had girlfriends, Nora?
My female friends are amazing across the board. They are certainly a brainy bunch, full of both high-brow theories, low-level street wisdom and everything in between. They are professionally successful, ambitious and creative. Funny, confident, strong…and yes, beautiful. In any room with them, I feel seriously blessed.
The complexity of adult female friendships is not the point of the Bride Quartet, I know. And yet when you’re asking me accept a whole bunch of other preposterous things, and your foundational structure is “these four women are best friends,” and their friendship feels like a list of outdated cliches…. I’m just not buying.
Do you know what real best friends would do if you got engaged after less than three months? They would look at your ring, shriek a little, then grab your face, squeeze it really hard and say “GIRLFRIEND, YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR FREAKING MIND.”
* “…back when she was still hooked up with Carter.” NO. If you want to play with the ‘tweens, Nora… learn the lingo.