The Wedding Beat by Devan Sipher is a breezy read about Gavin Greene, a reporter who covers weddings for The New York Times. He spends his weekends telling the fairy-tale stories of how couples met, fell in love, and tied the knot, but his own romantic life is a sorry mess. His last girlfriend left him, it turns out, because he was emotionally remote and couldn’t commit (which doesn’t actually match up with the way he comes across in the book), and when The Wedding Beat opens, he has met and instantly fallen for a woman that he lets slip through his fingers.
If you’ve ever read the Vows column of the NYT’s Style section, you’ll probably enjoy the references to the paper, how they pick who to feature, and the challenges of covering the wedding beat. (Sipher is an actual Vows columnist.) And I enjoyed the depiction of Gavin’s single, late-thirties existence and his longing to find a partner to share his life. Sipher’s writing is smooth and observant and The Wedding Beat was definitely an easy read.
Ultimately, it fell a little short for me. Some of the characters, including Gavin’s parents, bordered on caricatures, which always turns me off. And I am never a big fan of physical violence (fistfights) even when it is intended to be humorous. (This seems to be a guy novelist thing.) And I was bothered by the inconsistency I noted above – that the failure of Gavin’s most important relationship to date was due to his emotional unavailability, yet he is actually very sensitive and open throughout the novel. Finally, Sipher kept Greene and his dream woman apart for too much of the book – I wanted to see more of what they were like together.
The Wedding Beat is one of those books that reads like a screenplay. I can already see the rom-com – in fact, Sipher has already cast his leading man (James Marsden) – and I can imagine exactly how it will play out on screen. That’s probably a sign that it’s a bit formulaic; despite some twists that I didn’t see coming, this was a pretty predictable tale.
Thanks to Penguin for the review copy of The Wedding Beat and for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for the book.