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Girls in White Dresses
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Girls in White Dresses
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER • An “addictive, thoughtful” novel (Entertainment Weekly) that brings us through the thrilling, bewildering years of early adulthood while pulling us inside the...
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • An “addictive, thoughtful” novel (Entertainment Weekly) that brings us through the thrilling, bewildering years of early adulthood while pulling us inside the...
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Description-

  • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • An “addictive, thoughtful” novel (Entertainment Weekly) that brings us through the thrilling, bewildering years of early adulthood while pulling us inside the circle of three friends, perfectly capturing the wild frustrations and soaring joys of modern life.
    Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat minuscule sandwiches and cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contend with: Isabella is working a dead-end job, Mary is dating a nice guy with an awful mother, and Lauren is waitressing at a midtown bar and wondering why she's attracted to the sleazy bartender.

Excerpts-

  • From the book The Rules of Life

    I

    Sabella's sister, Molly, was married with ten bridesmaids in matching tea-length, blue floral Laura Ashley dresses. It was, Isabella believed, the most beautiful wedding anyone would ever have. She was twelve.

    "More beautiful than Princess Diana," her mother told Molly that morning as she helped her get dressed.

    "I need more bobby pins," her sister replied.

    Isabella sat on the bed with her hair in a tight French braid. Early that morning, the hairdresser had teased and twisted her hair back, stuck baby's breath in it, and sprayed it with an entire can of hairspray. From the side, it looked like a plant was growing out of her head. She kept touching it lightly to make sure the braid was still there, and every time she did, she was surprised at the crispiness of her hair.

    "Isabella," Molly said. "If you keep touching your hair, you're going to ruin it." Isabella put her hand in her lap and watched Molly fluff her own crispy hair. Molly stared at herself in the mirror until her face got white. "I feel funny," she said. "A little sick."

    Isabella walked downstairs, where she saw her mom running around like a crazy person and her dad walking briskly and trying to look busy so he wouldn't get yelled at. "Molly thinks she's going to throw up," she announced. Her mom took the stairs two at a time to get to Molly. Her dad gave her a little smile with no teeth, and continued his pacing.

    The Mack family had been getting ready for this wedding for over a year. It was all they talked about, all they thought about. It was getting tiresome. Isabella's parents wanted everything to be perfect. They'd had the trim on the house repainted and the garden redone. "What's the point?" Isabella asked. "No one's going to see the house." Her parents just shook their heads at her and Molly rolled her eyes.

    Isabella's mother and father went on a diet. They walked every morning and ate fish for dinner. When Isabella's dad ordered a steak or put butter on his bread, her mom would shake her head and say, "Oh, Frank."

    "What's the difference?" Isabella asked. "No one's going to be looking at you guys." As soon as she said it, Isabella felt bad. She hadn't realized how mean the words sounded until they were out of her mouth, which had been happening a lot recently. It surprised Isabella, how nasty she could be without even trying.



    Isabella's mother hung the wedding picture in the front hall. It was the first thing people saw when they walked into the Mack house. If you looked at it quickly, it was just a blur of blue dresses and big hair. As the years went by, it began to look like something you would see in a magazine, in an article titled "Fashion Mistakes of the Early '90s." Even the faces in the picture seemed to change. The bridesmaids began to look embarrassed to be caught in such blue dresses. But there was nothing they could do about it. They were trapped there, framed for the whole world to see.

    "Whoa," Isabella's friends would say when they saw it.

    "I know," Isabella would say. "It's horrendous."



    Before Isabella moved to New York, her mom made her clean out her closet. "There are things in there that you haven't worn in years," she said. "Let's get it all cleaned out and I'll give it to the Salvation Army." She said it in an upbeat voice like it would be a fun thing to do. "You'll feel so much better when it's done," her mother added.

    "I really doubt that," Isabella said.

    Isabella sorted through old notebooks and shoes. She threw out T- shirts from high school sports teams and collages she'd made in junior high. In the back of her closet she found the blue...

About the Author-

  • Jennifer Close was born and raised on the North Shore of Chicago. She is a graduate of Boston College and received her MFA in Fiction Writing from The New School in 2005. She worked in New York in magazines for many years and then in Washington, D.C., as a bookseller. Girls in White Dresses is her first book.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 30, 2011
    Artfully spare prose adds a literary tinge to the chick lit staples—navigating relationships, bridesmaid duties, disappointing first jobs—explored in Close's debut collection. At their weakest, the stories owe too much to their predecessors: "The Showers," in which the recurring characters travel to a suburban bridal shower, is essentially a retelling of a snappier Sex and the City episode, and Isabella's boss in "Blind" has the dark shades of The Devil Wears Prada. The standout moments come in "The Peahens," when Abby reveals her unusual family and her struggle to fit in (she "studied hard, taking notes on the silver link bracelets all the girls wore"), and the sharp "Hope," when Shannon takes a backseat to her boyfriend's naïve political passion for "the Candidate" of a presidential campaign. Occasionally funny (as when Isabella refers to her dinner dates as "parallel eating"), but without the risk taking of The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing or the deeply explored emotion of Prep, these stories will resonate with readers in the throes of the quarter-life churn who can see themselves in the cast.

  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2011

    Three young women and their friends navigate the tricky world of big-city adulthood after graduation.

     Mary, Isabella and Lauren—the trio at the heart of this low-key coming-of-age—might not want to change the world, but they do hunger for lives more interesting than the marriage-and-babies routine that seems to have captured all their former schoolmates. Their story is told in a series of loosely connected chapters. The girls move to New York, fall for unworthy boys, find (and lose) jobs, all while attending an awful lot of weddings and bridal showers. Insecure wit Isabella comes from a big family and takes a dead-end position at a mailing-list company where she can go to work hungover, while Mary focuses on getting a law degree. Isabella and Mary share a tiny Manhattan apartment, prompting Isabella's little suburban niece to wonder aloud if Auntie Iz is poor. Party-girl Lauren works as a waitress and begins sleeping with a "dirty sexy" bartender at her restaurant, before discovering a talent for selling real estate. Mary passes the bar and gets a job at a law firm where she has to work until 9 p.m. just to keep up. And after a string of disappointments, Isabella meets Harrison (not Harry), a catch so appealing she fully expects she will screw it up during an especially challenging ski vacation. There is more, naturally, for the girls as they try to figure out who they are and what they really want, and their friendship evolves accordingly. With a light touch and utterly believable characters, Close's modestly appealing debut manages to capture the humor, heartache and cautious optimism of her protagonists.

    Wryly funny sketches of life in one's 20s.

     

    (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • Library Journal

    March 15, 2011

    These girls are bridesmaids who can't quite get things right. Isabella is acing her job but nevertheless loathes it, Mary adores a guy who adores only his mother, and Lauren finds herself attracted to someone who's definitely not her type. This novel of modern-day manners from first timer Close must have impressed someone; there's a 75,000-copy first printing. Stay tuned.

    Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    July 1, 2011
    Isabella, Mary, and Lauren are quickly realizing that the postcollege years aren't a parade of guaranteed, life-altering changes. Invited to a dizzying array of bachelorette parties, weddings, and showers both baby and bridal, the three get the sense that the adult world only applies to their acquaintances. After seeing each other through disastrous blind dates, unfulfilling career choices, and tense family holidays, they comfort themselves with the small victories of singledom. Girls in White Dresses is genuinely empathic, and Close brings a tender sense of humor to each of the episodic chapters. With a voice similar to those of Melissa Banks and Cindy Guidry, Close's novel expresses the perfect blend of midtwenties angst, collegiate nostalgia, and plentiful laughter. With different chapters narrated by each protagonist and some of their close friends, the novel is richly satisfying. Anyone who has attended a bridal shower while incredibly hungover, rolled her eyes at another gift-wrapped Onesie, or heard the phrase It's MY day too often to count will love this touching portrait of female friendship.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)

  • Metro News (New York) "Close's sardonic, well-crafted female characters and the all-too-familiar feeling of wedding fatigue will capture a large audience."
  • The Columbus Dispatch "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."
  • Metro News (Toronto) "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."
  • National Post "[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."
  • Elysa Gardner, USA Today "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."
  • Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly "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."
  • Kirkus Reviews "With a light touch and utterly believable characters, Close's . . . appealing debut manages to capture the humor, heartache and cautious optimism of her protagonists."
  • Shelf Awareness "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."
  • Library Journal (starred review) "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."
  • Publishers Weekly "Funny. . . . These stories will resonate with readers in the throes of the quarter-life churn."
  • Ann Packer, bestselling author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier and Swim Back to Me
    "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."
  • Library Journal (starred review) "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."
  • Danielle Ganek, author of The Summer We Read Gatsby "These Girls are smart, funny and extremely engaging. You will adore them and their poignant--and often hilarious--romantic yearnings."
  • Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of The One That I Want and Time of My Life "The only way to express my love for Girls in White Dres

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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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