The problem with most of the post-Bridget Jones fiction is that the dithering heroines tend to inspire impatience rather than sympathy, but in the novel Her
, Laura Zigman skillfully avoids that common pitfall. Elise is engaged to be married to Donald. Displaced New Yorkers living in Washington, D.C., they bond over the foibles of life in the capital: pundits at the grocery store, power brokers at the baggage claim. Donald seems a truly amiable fellow, a fine fictional creation worth fighting over. Enter the titular her, Donald's ex-girlfriend Adrienne, a dark beauty who's catty and gracefully catlike all at once. When Adrienne relocates from New York to D.C., Elise fights a pitched battle over the hapless Donald, who of course has no idea of the warfare on his behalf. Unfortunately, Elise can be so insecure and jealous that the reader guiltily begins to root for Adrienne--at least she's got a little self-respect. Such is the power of romantic formula, however, that when it all comes right for Donald and Elise, we close the book with a satisfied feeling. --Claire Dederer
From Publishers Weekly
Zigman's third novel, a wild tale of a woman's "transformation... from bride-to-be to madwoman" is for anyone who's ever felt prewedding jitters and the pangs of obsessive jealousy. Having left her job at a teen magazine in New York City to pursue a quieter life in Washington, D.C., Zigman's narrator, Elise, meets her perfect guy Donald, a reformed bond trader now teaching English at Sidwell Friends on the Delta shuttle. Or her almost perfect guy. Donald's one fault is that he was engaged to Adrienne, and her name crops up in just about every conversation. Though Donald and Elise swiftly fall in love and begin planning their wedding, Elise cannot help obsessing over the brilliant and "horrifyingly gorgeous" former fiance. But like the paranoiac who is being followed, Elise may have good reason to be jealous. Only months before the wedding, Adrienne takes a job in Washington, D.C., and reinserts herself into Donald's life, fueling Elise's jealousy as well as a slapstick plot having to do with Donald's dog, Elise's wedding dress and liposuction. Zigman is better at caricature than characterization, and her emphatic, read-aloud style sometimes falls flat on the page. Yet some scenes when Donald meets Elise, for instance are fresh and smart and almost perfect, as are many of her one-liners.
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