By Ekta R. Garg
July 20, 2011
Rated: Borrow it
No one knows tulle, ruching, or veils better than those who work directly in the bridal industry. No one, of course, except for the editors, writers, interns, advertisers, and designers who steamroll ahead every month to put together the magazines about the bridal business. And like bridal itself, magazine publishing can be a pretty cutthroat enterprise.
Susan Schneider gives us a first-hand look at both in her debut novel, The Wedding Writer, released last month by St. Martin’s Press. Schneider has written from her personal experience as a member of the publishing side of it all: she was executive editor at Bridal Guide Magazine as well as executive editor at both Modern Bride and Elegant Bride.
Her insider information grounds her characters and story in reality. Lead character Leigh “Lucky” Quinn gets her dream job and loses her mentor/office-best-friend-forever all in one fell swoop. As the wedding writer of Your Wedding magazine, Lucky has dreamt of the day when she could ascend from her current position to the throne currently held by editor-in-chief Grace Ralston.
Ralston is a fixture in the industry; she’s held her own there for a quarter of a century. But as the economy starts to slide, higher management decides to take drastic measures to save advertising and circulation numbers by getting rid of the “something old” in Grace and taking on “something new” in Lucky.
Lucky’s sense of entitlement eclipses her guilt at replacing Grace. Sure, Grace took a chance on a bridal industry virgin when she hired Lucky. But, Lucky presumes, she can surely do what Grace couldn’t as far as giving the magazine a boost in sales. The book follows Lucky’s arduous efforts at convincing everyone she really is the editor-in-chief and she really does have what Grace Ralston had. Maybe even more.
Readers also get to tag along with Grace. When the most powerful woman in the industry is forced to abdicate her throne, what happens to her? Does she become a common peasant? Is there a calling for a former queen?
Author Schneider also lets us into the lives of two of Grace’s most loyal subjects: Fashion editor Sara can’t imagine life without Grace’s rule and struggles to accept the reality of Lucky’s new position. She also wants the opportunity to finally meet Mr. Right and plan her own chic soiree of a wedding. But her dedication to the job may be killing her prospects.
Felice, the art director with style and panache, may not be having as hard a time as Sara in accepting Lucky, but Grace’s departure coincides with domestic problems Felice never saw coming. Is it possible to handle her career and home life without losing her mind—or herself—in the process?
Schneider doesn’t throw rose petals on any of it. She gives us the grit and sweat and long hours of the magazine publishing industry, and some readers not familiar with that business may be surprised at how ruthless it can be. Granted, it is a novel, so Schneider also has her fair share of drama thrown in—a surprise baby, a missing person, even a mini food fight—but she manages to blend the dramatic with the realistic to prove an age-old assumption: that the top is a very lonely place to be. Indeed, the more Lucky succeeds (or seems to succeed,) the lonelier she feels.
My only real problem with the book came in the form of the epilogue, which I felt to be completely unnecessary. It didn’t add anything to the story and almost seemed an afterthought. But all in all Schneider’s first work is an enjoyable read; anyone who has ever been through a wedding or had to fight hard for a coveted goal only to find out that goal wasn’t everything he or she anticipated will certainly enjoy and appreciate The Wedding Writer.
What the ratings mean:
Bookmark it!–Read this book and then buy it and add it to to your own collection. It’s definitely worth it!
Borrow it–Check this one out from the library; it’s a worthy read, but think twice before spending your hard-earned money on it.
Bypass it–Free time is precious. Don’t spend it on this book!