Girls in White Dresses

Girls in White Dresses
By Jennifer Close
Vintage Books – £7.99

Marie Claire has called this ‘’an irresistible, pitch-perfect first novel,’’ and having just finished reading it, I can’t help but agree.

By alerting the reader to only what’s essential – not to mention kooky and amusing – authoress Jennifer Close has herein written a debut novel that really isn’t typical, especially for the genre within which it will invariably find itself.
Girls in White Dresses (cool title, reminds me of Springsteen’s ‘Girls In Their Summer Clothes), follows a group of friends through their lives after college and into their thirties.

Sharing love interests, family, work-places and personal thoughts, it’s a fantastic roller-coaster of a read; never dull and definitely not a chick lit contender so far as predictive story lines go. Reason being, the three main characters, Isabella, Mary and Lauren are well observed, while their characters are actually believable; unlike so many novels where the protagonist only wears Jimmy Choo shoes, is thirty-six feet tall, alludes to everything of a Tiffany’s persuasion and comes replete with extraordinary facial features and long blond hair.

For instance, in the chapter simply entitled ‘The Showers,’ Close writes: ‘’’’This is getting ridiculous,’’ Lauren said. She was cranky. ‘’This is my fifth wedding this year. And I’m done with it. What I don’t get is why there have to be so many showers just for one person. And why do they have to have themes? Why? Just to make it more annoying than it already is?’’

Isabella shushed her and then glanced inside to make sure no one had heard. The theme for this shower was ‘’My Favourite Things.’’ They had all received invitations that read: ‘’Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes! Please come and celebrate with our bride-to-be, Kristi Kearney. Bring her one your favourite things!’’

‘’I should have brought her cigarettes,’’ Lauren said thoughtfully. She took one more drag and then stamped her cigarette out on the ground. ‘’They are one of my favourite things. Thank God I have them today. Kristi’s being a nightmare, huh?’’’’

Suffice to say, these girls have real grit hang-ups, foibles and insecurities relating to work and relationships. This is all the more substantiated in the book’s penultimate chapter ‘ Flushing Willard,’ where once again, Close highlights the potential awkwardness of dating: ‘’On their second date, Mark brought Lauren a goldfish, which made her nervous. Lauren knew that the normal life span of a goldfish was about five days, but growing up she’d had one that lived for five years. And so, it seemed a big commitment when Mark gave her the plastic bag with the fish in it.

‘’Here,’’ he said, ‘’I got you this.’’ He held out the baggie like he had just found it in the hallway before he came into her apartment, like it was a normal thing to do to hand a goldfish to a girl you barely knew.

‘’Oh,’’ Lauren said. ‘’Thank you. I guess I should put these in some water.’’ Mark didn’t laugh. Either he didn’t get the joke or he didn’t think she was funny. She couldn’t decide which was worse.’’

Either way, Girls in White Dresses gets the big thumbs up. It’s obviously a book that will primarily appeal to girls, but one, which is nevertheless, racey’n’pacey enough to stand on its own. The above two snippets alone, go some way in ensuring as much.

David Marx

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