After 18 months of dating, hemming, hawing, begging, badgering, and threatening--as well as performing "really sincere fellatio"--the heroine of Otherwise Engaged
has finally finagled an engagement ring. Eve seems confident that Michael, "the epitome of a Nice Jewish Man," is the person she wants to spend her life with. Yet she nearly kills herself soon after the celebratory dinner, staring at her newly acquired rock while speeding along a San Francisco freeway. And she may kill Michael, too, but not accidentally: "Michael leaves his socks on the floor when he takes off his shoes after work. This used to be fine. But now a sock on the floor isn't just a sock on the floor. It's a sock on the floor for the rest of my life."
Suzanne Finnamore's comic novel chronicles the happy couple's year-long engagement--which, to judge from Eve's Valium intake, is about 11 months too long. Eve and Michael bicker over every last detail: whether to hire a professional photographer or one of Michael's advertising-director buddies; which one of them wastes more money; who used up the last can of chicken stock and didn't add it to the shopping list. At 36, Eve throws more tantrums than the average toddler, and Michael's moodiness and problems with his ex-wife certainly don't help. The result is one drama-queen dilemma after another, none of them much ameliorated by Eve's slapstick sessions with "a seventy-year-old Marin County prominent Jungian."
Eve's troubles are primarily self-induced, of course, and the lush life she leads as a lavishly compensated advertising copywriter makes it hard to regard her as a tragic figure. Still, Otherwise Engaged is worth a quick read by any anxious bride-to-be who's delaying that inevitable appointment with Martha Stewart's premarital to-do checklist. --Erica Jorgensen
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From Publishers Weekly
Starting where Bridget Jones's Diary and Animal Husbandry left off, Finnamore's debut novel humorously chronicles one woman's life of limbo, now that she's achieved an engagement ring: "He didn't kneel. It's unlikely that I would marry someone who did. From then on, I would live in fear of Whitman Samplers." Narrator and ad-writer Eve, 36, finally maneuvers a proposal from her boyfriend, Michael. But she immediately panics, wondering if she can survive the pressure without losing her mind, her man, or both. Will Eve make it to the altar despite an invasive mother-in-law, the death of a dear high school friend, job woes and her fever-pitch anxiety? Now she's noticing many divorced couples, hoarding her Valium and squabbling constantly with Michael with a ferocity that reminds her of "two grouchy morbid orangutans in a small cage at a testing facility." Eve has a distinctively wry, endearingly comical voice, able to speak bluntly and incisively when examining her neuroses, and to mock her hysteria with deadpan wit. Toward the novel's end, her wedding blues may begin to jangle readers' nerves, however; her observations remain fresh, but one wishes that she'd get a grip, and the sooner the better. But her energetically told story, set in a vibrantly realized San Francisco, should appeal to anyone who can appreciate a cool, clever intelligence capable of discerning the zaniness of the purgatory known as engagement. 75,000 first printing; author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the