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Arranged: A Novel Paperback – May 15, 2012
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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“This zany novel gallops through the perils of one thirty-something redhead’s desperate search for love and marriage, no necessarily in that order.” (Elle Canada)
“Just when you think you’ve got Arranged figured out, time and again Catherine McKenzie delivers the flawless, unexpected twist that keeps you glued to the book.” (Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Day the Falls Stood Still)
“A novel that explores what happens when what you think want collides with what you really need. Catherine McKenzie’s Arranged is a rare book: smart, funny, honest, and absorbing.” (Therese Walsh, author of The Last Will of Moira Leahy)
“A satisfying and entertaining romantic tale that puts a contemporary twist on old-fashioned ideas about marriage. I inhaled it in an afternoon, rooting for its heroine to find the love she longs for.” (Leah Stewart, author of The Myth of You and Me and Husband and Wife)
“Catherine McKenzie brings a smart twist to marriage and relationships in her second novel, the story of unlucky-in-love Anne Blythe. Arranged is crafted with pathos and subtle humor, and through it McKenzie’s heroine learns—the hard way—that the happiest endings are often the ones least expected.” (Shawn Klomparens, author of Jessica Z and Two Years, No Rain)
“This is chick lit for real women, featuring a smart, competent heroine with a hopeless romantic streak…The humor ranges from biting sarcasm to slapstick, and the narrative voice is compulsively readable…Fans of Jennifer Weiner and Jennifer Crusie have found a new author to watch.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Anyone who has ever looked for love in all the wrong places will love McKenzie’s latest tale of romance found in the place one least expects it. A real page-turner, Arranged is a perfect beach read. McKenzie will have readers laughing and crying right along with her heroine.” (RT Book Reviews)
“In her fast-paced and fun second novel, Catherine McKenzie...makes this far-fetched idea plausible and entertaining. With good dialogue, three-dimensional characters, and page-turning scenes, McKenzie expertly explores what makes a successful marraige work and the lengths to which some people will go to find true love.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Make a date with Catherine McKenzie’s Arranged this summer. A smart and honest novel about a woman’s desperate search for love and marriage, it will hit home for many.” (SheKnows.com "Must Read" on ARRANGED)
From the Back Cover
Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, close friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share her life with, however, she just can't seem to get it right. When her latest relationship implodes, and her best friend announces she's engaged, Anne impulsively calls what she thinks is a dating service—only to discover that it's actually an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. Anne initially rejects the idea, but the more she learns about the service, the more she thinks: Why not? After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world; maybe it could work for her.
A few months later, Anne is traveling to a Mexican resort, where, over the course of a weekend, she meets and then marries Jack. And initially, everything seems to be working out. . . .
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Top customer reviews
This novel is divided into 3 main sections (books).
In the first section, the reader is introduced to Anne Blythe. She reads her boyfriend Stuart's emails (a bit prying) and finds he has been unfaithful. She leaves him and gets her own apartment. Stuart's is one of several failed relationships. All her boyfriends have been similar types; all have been tall, dark, blue-eyed and handsome. She realizes she has been attracted to their looks, but the relationships were all doomed to failure. In contrast, Anne's best friend, Sarah, is engaged to Mike, a really nice man. Additonally, Anne runs into a couple of her old boyfriends, Tadd and John, who are now both married. Anne feels she has had no luck in finding a workable relationship with a man.
When she goes out for drinks with her best friend, Sarah, she picks up a card on the street that advertises "arranged marriages". Anne thinks this is the beckoning of fate, since the name of the company has Anne's surname, Blythe, in the title. Anne contacts Blythe & Company and decides to pay the $10,000 fee for their services. (She is able to pay the fee because she has received a $15,000 advance on a book she has written). The company maintains they search for very compatible people for each client and have a 95% success rate for the couples' marriages. Blythe & Company also include a year of couple therapy to ensure the success of the marriages.
The second section (Book 2) picks up the pace. This section has a wonderful easy flow of exchanges among the characters. The conversations seem so natural and real. Additionally, Catherine does an excellent job in portraying the sexual energy between Anne Blythe and Jack Harmer. I would have given the book 4 stars if the rest of the book were of the same caliber.
Anne is matched with Jack. Both of them are writers and seem to have a good deal in common. They get married at a Mexican resort along with many other couples. They are very attracted to each other. Dr. Szwick, the Blythe & Company couple therapist, warns that they need to focus on being friends and working out the practical considerations of their relationship.
The third section (Book 3) is concerned with their return home and the evolving of their relationship:
Jack moves in with Anne and stays home alone to work on a book. Anne has a job writing for a magazine company and goes to work each day. Jack is very secretive about the book that he is working on. Anne tells Jack she loves him one night and feels puzzled and somewhat hurt that he does not reply in kind. She knows their relationship is supposed to be based on friendship, rather than love, but Anne knows she loves him and hopes he feels the same way.
When Anne comes back from a book tour a day early, she finds Jack absent, but his book is in plain sight. She picks up his manuscript and reads it. To Anne's horror, Jack has written a book about the arranged marriages of Blythe & Company. Jack had researched Anne and had even hired someone to hack into private databases in order to learn more about her as well as Blythe & Company. Jack had known a good deal about Anne before they even met. When he did meet her in person in Mexico, he had pretended that he knew nothing about her. Jack's book was an expose of Blythe & Company. The company used fraudulent practices and often matched couples randomly. Whereas Anne entered their marriage in good faith, Jack had just married her in order to write this book.
Jack insists he has to publish the book; otherwise, he will be sued. Anne divorces him, but he keeps trying to renew their relationship. Jack does publish the book but makes quite a few changes to show that he does really care for Anne. Anne eventually read the new version and forgives him enough to start their relationship up again.
Book 3 was somewhat disappointing. It seemed a contrived solution to change the story. It did not seem believable to me that Jack would have finished his book after meeting Anne. He had seemed genuinely taken with her; he was obviously in love with her.
It did not seem realistic to me that Anne would have renewed her relationship to Jack after he had planned on using her in order to write his book; she would not have gotten back together with him after such a betrayal.
However as a whole, Arranged was entertaining to read and kept me interested most of the time. It is a fun read.