J. Courtney Sullivan Reviews Girls in White Dresses
J. Courtney Sullivan is the author of two New York Times bestselling novels, Maine and Commencement. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, and New York magazine, among others. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Like a lot of women in America, I was awake at 4 a.m. on April 29th. But unlike the rest, I wasn’t waiting to see Kate Middleton walk down the aisle. I was reading Girls in White Dresses.
This hilarious, pitch-perfect debut more or less took over my life for three glorious days. I cancelled dinners, ignored deadlines and went without sleep, all because I could not stop reading it.
The author introduces an unforgettable cast of characters who navigate post-college life in the city. I laughed a lot while reading this novel, nodded knowingly, and occasionally wondered if Jennifer Close had been secretly reading my emails for the past ten years.
Any woman who has been a twenty-something can relate: There are first jobs (“Isabella knew [her boss] thought the Greek salad was super healthy, and for that she pitied him.”) First homes (“They hung mirrors on the walls to make the apartment seem bigger.”) First weddings (“You never want to be the first one of your friends to get married. If you are, just resign yourself to the fact that your wedding will be a sh-t show.”)
With wit and wisdom, Close captures every little detail of New York life in one’s twenties; that decade that so often begins with late nights out and ill-advised infatuations, yet somehow ends with bridal showers and babies and mothers-in-law named Button. Close leads her characters from the days of living together in cramped apartments straight through to a time when life has gotten hectic, obligations have increased, and a stolen weekend away at a beach house is the only bonding time they get.
Through it all--through drunken nights and hungover mornings, evil bosses, cancelled engagements, and that time Mary lost her mind and named her newborn baby Gertrude for three days--their friendships remain a constant.
Girls in White Dresses is reminiscent of Melissa Bank’s The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, but at the same time it’s a total original, perfectly reflecting the events of recent years: One character loses her boyfriend to a charismatic political candidate, campaigning on hope and change. Another gets married the same weekend that the King of Pop dies, and her wedding turns into a Michael Jackson tribute concert.
Only once in a very blue moon does a book captivate me as much as this one did. Read it immediately and prepare to be up all night.
“[Close’s characters] grumble good-naturedly through their friends’ weddings and the births of their babies, supporting one another as they stumble through the minefield of rotten jobs and disastrous romances, with the pluck and gimlet eye of Carrie Bradshaw’s younger, smarter sisters.” —Vanity Fair
“This debut will ring bells. Wedding bells. . . . An uncanny portrait emerges of a time in life marked by too many hangovers, bad dates and bridal showers—as well as an abundance of solid friendships.” —People
“Close’s cynical humor shines. . . . Close captures that mix of perplexing anticipation, tedium, poor choices, dashed hopes and resilience that characterizes young adulthood.” —The New York Journal of Books
“One of the most buzzed-about reads of the summer. . . . Funny and often poignant; the tone of the book is reminiscent of Melissa Bank's popular 1999 novel The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing
. . . . The vignettes of White Dresses
are intricate and often absurd, yet instantly relatable.” —Winnipeg Free Press
“Close’s witty voice . . . charts the romantic shenanigans of a bevy of New York women in their 20s, before career success or Botoxed foreheads. Dating is a phenomenon to be analyzed in improvised group therapy over cocktails.” —The New York Times
“Follows three women and peripheral friends as they alternately flounder and flourish through their 20s. Weddings provide the backdrop as the women feel their way in and out of inert relationships and crappy jobs, trying to figure out who they want to be.” —The Washington Post
“Close’s sardonic, well-crafted female characters and the all-too-familiar feeling of wedding fatigue will capture a large audience.” —Metro News
“It’s a pleasure to get to know the characters and be able to leave them behind, knowing they’ll keep muddling on toward some version of happiness.” —The Columbus Dispatch
“So many books aimed at 25- to 35-year-old women say they perfectly capture the angst and soaring joys of post-college life, but Girls in White Dresses
truly does. Told in intersecting stories of a group of friends, Close is able to nail the complexity of the times—who to date, what job to take and what to wear to the endless weddings.” —Metro News
“[Close] turns her wry sense of humor toward the showers, dresses and expenses, instead of the actual ceremonies. . . . Reading each story feels like catching up with an old friend. . . . Although the majority of the stories are humorous, they are never mean-spirited, and the friendships Close portrays feel incredibly realistic.” —National Post
“Anyone who has seen The Sound of Music
—that is, everyone—will likely recognize the title of Jennifer Close’s Girls in White Dresses
as a certain Oscar Hammerstein lyric. But given the tone and tenor of this debut novel, it shouldn’t surprise that the reference isn’t particularly affectionate. . . . Close, who is 32, captures the extended post-collegiate ennui associated with her generation. . . . Quite endearing.” —Elysa Gardner, USA Today
“Close straddles the line between melancholy and breeziness as she chronicles the exploits of recent college grads trying to make it in New York City . . . Hints at something deeper and truer: not just the adventure of being young, but the unmooring of it, too.” —Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
“You’ll relate, but mostly you’ll laugh as Close turns her sweet-tart wit on the dating and mating shenanigans of this tight-knit group of friends.” —Redbook
“[An] irresistible, pitch-perfect first novel.” —Marie Claire
“With a light touch and utterly believable characters, Close’s . . . appealing debut manages to capture the humor, heartache and cautious optimism of her protagonists.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Is this just another fluffy piece of chick lit about 20-somethings finally finding love? Not with Close’s wry wit and deadpan delivery, which make this debut novel a treat to read. . . . An original confection with echoes of The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing
and a dollop of Sex and the City
.” —Shelf Awareness
“Jennifer Close’s debut, Girls in White Dresses
, follows a group of young women doing all the things they know they shouldn’t—falling for one’s boss, dating gay men—all while drinking far too many mimosas at other people’s weddings.” —Vogue.com
“Mixed in with the trials and tribulations of the protagonists are humorous vignettes from the lives of some of their other friends and acquaintances—many of whom are on their way to the altar or trying to find a way to get there. This series of linked short stories is reminiscent of Melissa Bank’s The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing. It is modern and funny, with original, wry observations. Close’s debut novel will appeal to both fans of contemporary women’s fiction with a hip vibe and readers who enjoy old-school chick lit.” —Library Journal
“Funny. . . . These stories will resonate with readers in the throes of the quarter-life churn.” —Publishers Weekly
"What a delight! The young women in this hugely appealing book are charming, funny, rueful, poignant—just like their creator, in other words, one of the freshest and most appealing new voices in fiction. I can’t wait for more work from Jennifer Close." —Ann Packer, bestselling author of The Dive from Clausen’s Pier
and Swim Back to Me
"Mixed in with the trials and tribulations of the protagonists are humorous vignettes from the lives of some of their other friends and acquaintances—many of whom are on their way to the altar or trying to find a way to get there. . . . Reminiscent of Melissa Bank’s The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing.
It is modern and funny, with original, wry observations. Close’s debut novel will appeal to both fans of contemporary women’s fiction with a hip vibe and readers who enjoy old-school chick lit." —Library Journal
are smart, funny and extremely engaging. You will adore them and their poignant--and often hilarious--romantic yearnings." —Danielle Ganek, author of The Summer We Read Gatsby
"The only way to express my love for Girls in White Dresses
by Jennifer Close is to tell you that this is the one book that I will be recommending over and over again to all of my friends. I laughed, I cried, I nodded knowingly as the characters waded their way through the hits and misses of their twenties and thirties. I can't remember the last time I loved a book as much as this one." —Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times
bestselling author of The One That I Want
and Time of My Life
"Girls In White Dresses
is a dark, funny, intimate romp through boyfriends, first apartments, and great friendships--but beneath the surface lurks the jealousy, disappointment, and love that didn’t quite end up the way you thought it would. Jennifer Close's brilliant, deadpan humor made me laugh so hard my own roommate thought I was nuts." —Margot Berwin, author of Hothouse Flower
"If Elizabeth Bennet were post-collegiate, hungover, lovelorn and living on the Upper West Side, she would definitely be rooming with the Girls in White Dresses.
This debut is hilarious, warm-hearted and wise, and I couldn't put it down." —Holly LeCraw, author of The Swimming Pool
"Girls in White Dresses
is about a group of smart, funny, unapologetically grouchy, always-hungover female friends who kvetch their way through one another's weddings and showers, stare blearily at one another's offspring, sometimes barely tolerate one another's men, but nonetheless have one another's backs through thick and thin. Jennifer Close has written an unsentimental, frank novel about female friendship—its lifelong loyalties and unconditional love." —Kate Christensen, PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author of The Great Man
and The Astral