Always The Bridesmaid
Harper Collins AUS
Copy courtesy of the publisher
Maddie works as an assistant at an events planning and PR company, in the same position she’s been in for ten years since she finished university. Her boss is a nightmare but Maddie enjoys what she does, even if it does mean working for a reincarnation of Satan. She’s been single for two years and her ex-boyfriend is welcoming his first child with his new wife. Maddie has two best friends, Lauren and Sarah and when Lauren announces her engagement to boyfriend Michael, it’s naturally Maddie that she wants to help plan her wedding. On top of being a bridesmaid.
To further complicate matters, her place of employment has requested she apply for a job they’re advertising. It’d mean a promotion but Maddie is also aware that her friend Sarah intends applying as well. Not to mention she rather fears how her boss will react when she finds out. In order for Maddie to ‘prove herself’ on her own, her company set her a task of organising a christening for the child of a rather high maintenance couple. Soon everything is piling up overwhelmingly for Maddie and the three close friends find themselves at odds as personal and professional stresses get the better of them. Lauren is a bridezilla of epic proportions and Maddie is frantically juggling her outrageous demands as well as those of the christening couple and the friendship between the three is imploding due to external stresses, the wedding and the secrets that all of them are keeping. For Maddie, her chance to shine could mean risking everything she holds dear.
I really enjoy Lindsey Kelk’s novels and I think she has firmly established herself as a queen of this genre. This is a stand alone story featuring Maddie, a thirty-one year old whose life really hasn’t progressed much in ten years. Maddie is a very relateable character – her job stresses her out because her boss sucks, she lives alone after the disintegration of her last relationship and can’t be bothered cleaning up her flat now that it’s just her. She has two very close friends, although all three of them are very different and she likes a bit of a drink. When things get tough, Maddie gets the gin.
I had a pretty laid back wedding – no delusions of wanting to book Beyonce with a month’s notice here so I do have to admit that intensely grand weddings and the whole bridezilla thing does pass me by. I understand however, that every bride wants it to be perfect and that perfect is different for everyone. For Maddie, there’s a huge amount of pressure to deliver what her friend wants and this is basically a full time job that she’s doing unpaid for and in her spare time, on top of the full time job she already has. She’s also delicately balancing her friends, as just as Lauren is getting ready to walk down the aisle, Sarah’s marriage is falling apart and Maddie is having to pick up the pieces there, as Sarah doesn’t want to burden Lauren too much with her stories and emotions of what happens when it doesn’t work out. This does put Maddie in difficult positions, on occasion but it’s clear that she loves both her friends and is willing to sacrifice her sleep, her free time and many other things in order to be there for them in various capacities. I really enjoyed the friendship between the three women because both their closeness and the discord that develops felt very realistic and natural. Friends fight, it’s a way of life. People get stressed, they say things they shouldn’t, they keep secrets etc. All three of them play roles in the various tensions that escalate and all three of them also play roles in the various reconciliations, which shows the devotion that they all have to the friendship.
Like Kelk’s other books, there is some romance in this although it always remains in the background, second to Maddie’s development in her career and her relationship with her friends. Whilst attending a wedding she and her boss have helped organise, Maddie is roped into playing a waitress due to a staffing issue and meets two of the guests at the wedding. First impressions are rarely accurate and I have to say, I loved the way this played out. I was a big fan of one of the characters but there were some bumps in the road and the reader has to be patient for Maddie to catch up with them.
This for me was just one of those books that has you invested from start to finish. There are some laugh out loud moments but there are also some sad moments, especially between the three friends and in particular for Sarah. I loved the evolution of Maddie’s romantic life as well as her struggles with her career and trying to prove herself. A lot of the time Maddie is a victim when things go wrong, generally at the hands of her boss who doesn’t ever want Maddie to advance past being her assistant. She even sends Maddie to have a mammogram to report back on what they’re like before she’ll go and have one herself. My theory on that was probably Maddie’s boss knew just how good Maddie was at her job and didn’t want to lose her and all the endless hours that she put in, which would definitely result in an increased workload for her boss.
Always The Bridesmaid is another stellar release from Lindsey Kelk – smart, warm and funny.
Book #94 of 2015