On the train ride home from the Blog Ontario meet up, Kaley from Books Ect. recommended that I check out Catherine McKenzie’s latest novel, Arranged. As Kaley, a chick lit expert, started describing the book to me, my ears immediately perked up. She told me all about how the story is focused on Anne Blythe, a young writer who can’t seem to find Mr. Right. After yet another failed relationship, Anne discovers a business card on the street that she assumes is for a dating service. Having given up on finding her perfect man by herself, Anne calls the number only to discover that the business card is not for a dating service, but for a pricy arranged marriage service! Feeling impulsive, Anne signs up and soon finds herself travelling to Mexico to marry a man that she’s never even met!
While the idea of a story focused on an arranged marriage had me interested to begin with, it was Kaley’s reveal that the main character of the novel is named after Anne of Green Gables that completely sold this novel to me! What can I say? I LOVE Anne of Green Gables! I immediately made Arranged my next book review choice despite the mountain of books sitting by my bed already waiting to be read. And boy was I happy that I did! Not only was the book overflowing with plenty of delicious Anne of Green Gables references, it was also cute, funny, and absolutely heartwarming!
Anne of Green Gables references aside, my absolute favourite thing about Arranged was the fact that it wasn’t your typical chick lit novel. Being used to chick lit novels that are overrun with self-destructive female characters, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that Anne actually had a pretty good head on her shoulders! While, yes, she does make some questionable decisions (like deciding to have an arranged marriage), for the most part Anne is just your average female trying to navigate the twists and turns of life. It’s actually Anne’s love interest who ends up being the self-destructive character straight out of a Sophie Kinsella novel! Without spoiling the novel, all I can say is that it was refreshing for once to have the male protagonist making all of the mistakes!
The only real criticism that I have for Arranged is that it has a bit of a slow start. Readers don’t actually get to meet Anne’s love interest until about halfway through the book (another difference from typical chick lit)! That isn’t to say that the first half of the novel is boring…(there are lots of cute and funny moments that help to build a better picture of Anne’s character)…it just takes a while for the plot to gain some momentum.
In the end, all that I can say is THANK YOU KALEY for recommending Arranged to me! I’m definitely a fan of Catherine McKenzie’s writing now, and I can’t wait to check out her other books!