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Otherwise Engaged: A Novel Paperback – May 9, 2000

4.0 out of 5 stars 280 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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 Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Vintage Contemporaries ed edition (May 9, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375706429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375706424
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (280 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,670,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a brilliant novel. And I'm a guy. (And I have to say to those people who have written lonely one star reviews: it's a novel, get a life. It's make believe, just like, oh, I don't know, Barbie.) Funny, yes. But also interestingly profound. Which I feel, personally, is a fair fifty-fifty thing. This really is a book about the process (and it is a process) of engagement. I have a hunch, but no proof, that this is really a bio disguised as a novel. I like to think this, anyway. I like to think there is a real Eve out there somewhere. An actual woman. At least, I'd like to hope there is. On a personal note, I have to say: My girlfriend became the Bitch From Hell after we set The Date. She read this book and it was like she had suddenly entered a Valium haze. All of a sudden, she was calm, cool. The panic was gone. I think because she sort of identified with the main person in the book. She felt like she wasn't alone thinking she was crazy. The ONE complaint I have about this book is a line in the book that says something like, "a sock on the floor is a sock on the floor for the rest of my life" or something. Anyway, the same is true for me. For the rest of my life, I will walk into the bathroom in the morning and be greeted by nylons hanging over MY towel. And also, there's never any room in the medicine cabinet. At least I hope.
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By A Customer on April 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I am going to be married in four months. Assuming I'm not hit by a bus tomorrow or eat warm mayonnaise by accident. And I am going crazy. As a gift, my friend, Ann, gave me a copy of Otherwise Engaged, by Suzanne Finnamore. I was like, "you want me to READ???" She said, "Just read it." So I did.I would like my review to be a gigantic bullhorn to EVERY woman who is either engaged, about to be engaged, wanting to be engaged or wishing to be so. SOMEBODY FINALLY GETS IT.That's what I would shout. This book is absolutely important and wonderful. For the first time, SOMEBODY has come forward and talked about the anxiety that we feel when we are in a relationship. I mean the real stuff, the stuff we think but don't say and sometimes don't even admit we think. This is a very brave novel, and I am so personally grateful to the writer (Suzanne Finnamore) for writing it. Aside from being paralyzingly funny, it's all TRUE. She gets it. I have been going out of my mind thinking I am the only person who is feeling what I feel and then all of a sudden, SMACK. I read this book.I also saw New York Magazine recently because my husband-to-be is from NY and we subscribe, and there she was...except I didn't like one thing: they compared Otherwise Engaged to the Bridget Jones book and I read that (loved it) but this is really different...I almost want to say that BJ is about being single and Finnamore is about getting married, but that's not it. The difference is, to me, BJ is a really fun read. But Otherwise Engaged is astounding. Every word is perfect and you just read it and think, "I want to KNOW her..." There are so many good lines that I would wake up my boyfriend and say, "listen to this...Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As I write this review, 186 other people have reviewed this thing- so the question is: What incremental contribution can I make over and above the other 186 people who've had something to say about this book. Well, I'll try and be helpful by summarizing what everyone else has said, dispel some myths, and help set expectations:
I avoided reading this book because based on what reviews I had read, I was afraid it was this "madcap romp through the bridal world"- I was scared it was going to be Bridget Jones Gets Married. I like Bridget, but "being engaged" and weddings are already superficial enough in this culture without the added bonus of slapstick.
This book is honest, genuine and really has very little to do with ordering flowers (don't even think i saw the word "florist," actually) or invitations (she does talk about addressing them and picking them out, but it's fairly quick). It's more about a person going through a transition in life and coping with the fears associated with those changes than it is about being engaged. I found it to be very similar to "Welcome to My Planet" by Shannon Olsen- Eve (from this book) and Shannon (from "Welcome...") both are transitioning and having to grow up and realize that they have to stop looking backward and give up certain things in order to gain certain things. I'm not engaged and never have been married, and I still very much related to that kind of emotional growth.
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Format: Paperback
I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. In fact, when I saw it on my bookshelf I couldn't even remember why I bought it. Imagine my surprise to find a witty, honest account of a woman's experience with engagement, relationships and life.
The story is told in the first person by a woman in her late thirties who has given her boyfriend an ultimatum, which he accepts. As she moves toward marriage, she encounters many ups and downs and emotional obstacles, all of which are related in a straight forward manner, easy to believe and relate to. This is not a book about a woman who simply has to get married; she really cares about her intended, even panics at the thought of life without him. Yet she still experiences doubts and jitters, a clear illustration of the effect that marriage can have of even the strongest relationships.
I highly recommend Otherwise Engaged to anyone, married, single, engaged or not. There's a lot in it that everybody can relate to, whether her fear of commitment or of being found out, proven to be the 'phony' she feels she is. And all of this is presented in a funny, smart and engaging (no pun intended) way. It's certainly good for a laugh, but I was very pleasantly suprised to find out how much more there is to it. Enjoy!
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