Book Review: Girls in White Dresses

Though the title of Close's novel comes from that cloying song from The Sound of Music, these white dresses symbolize gowns worn as a string of young women take that important walk down the aisle. So 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.

The brides and bridesmaids, all in their mid-20s, college grads on their own in Manhattan, are trying to make their way through the labyrinth of choices in business and romance, pets and takeout that modern life offers. This is not Our Hearts Were Young and Gay; rather, it is an original confection with echoes of The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing and a dollop of Sex and the City.

Isabella, Mary and Lauren are the centerpieces of these 17 interrelated stories, with friends on the periphery: Ellen, who "dates ugly boys," and Abby, who has hippie parents who embarrass her.

Lauren spends a good deal of time insisting that she is not going to sleep with that sleazy bartender she's working for--but what's a girl to do when he's right there in front of her? Then she meets Mark, a weirdly okay guy, and he informs her that he will never live with another person. She has marriage on her mind, so how can that end well?

Isabella has a penchant for picking losers, until she meets Harrison, who is definitely a keeper. They aren't married, or even talking about it, when he is offered a job in Boston. Isabella agrees to go with him and in "Until the Worm Turns" there is a riff on packing up and moving that will make you laugh out loud.

Mary is the studious one, a lawyer who marries and quickly produces two children. Her story involves a horror of a mother-in-law, named Button, because her daddy thought she was cute as a button. What more do you need to know?

There is a huge amount of alcohol consumed in these stories; many, many tears over men, weddings, showers, white dresses, wretched bosses, pets, jobs, fear of downsizing. In fact, just about any occasion calls for booze and tears--or both. Through it all, you just know that somehow these thoroughly modern Millies are going to come out right where they want to be. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: A humorous take on 20-somethings in Manhattan coping with the rigors of dating, careers and all their friends' weddings.

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