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The People We Hate at the Wedding

Review

The People We Hate at the Wedding

Ah, wedding season. A time for fresh flowers, dressing up, dancing --- and sniping at relatives we might only see once or twice a year. In Grant Ginder’s new novel, THE PEOPLE WE HATE AT THE WEDDING, the kinds of rifts that plague nearly every family are amplified to the nth degree, and it seems increasingly unlikely that the wedding at the focus of the story will ever manage to get off the ground, given all the rancor that’s swirling around it.

The bride-to-be is the beautiful and elegant (and wealthy) Eloise, the daughter of the American Donna’s first marriage to the French Henrique. Eloise is (of course) having a gorgeous, impeccably planned wedding at a historic cathedral in Dorset, and (of course) she wants her entire family there, including Donna and Eloise’s half-siblings, Paul and Alice, the children of Donna’s second marriage to an American, who is now deceased. But getting these difficult, damaged people across the pond and to Eloise’s wedding might be more trouble than it’s worth.

"Hilarity and heartbreak travel hand-in-hand in this snarky but never mean-spirited summer read, perfect for reading en route to the next wedding to which you’re invited."

Alice lives in Los Angeles, doing data analysis for a successful but soulless company and sleeping with her married boss. She hates her job and is still grieving a tragic loss from years earlier. What’s more, she’s always been jealous of Eloise’s easy successes and trouble-free life, not to mention Donna’s idealization of her first marriage and her older daughter. But when Eloise asks Alice to be a bridesmaid in the wedding, she agrees, of course, because it’s the right thing to do.

But she’s not going to go without her brother Paul, who lives in Philadelphia with his boyfriend Mark, who’s become increasingly successful professionally while Paul is stuck in a terrible job providing aversion therapy for patients with obsessive-compulsive disorders. He, too, hates his job, and he’s growing increasingly insecure about his relationship with Mark, who seems to be interested in pursuing a more open relationship.

Meanwhile, Donna is actually looking forward to Eloise’s wedding (if she can manage to find a dress that fits), although she’s still smarting over the fact that Paul has refused to speak to her ever since his father’s death. He accuses Donna of trying to obliterate the memory of his father, whom he idolized, and of caring for Eloise more than she ever cared for Alice or Paul.

Needless to say, when these four characters finally land in the same postal code, things go awry very quickly. Written in chapters from different characters’ perspectives (including Mark and Eloise’s fiancé, Ollie), the novel moves along quickly, propelled by snappy dialogue and absurd, sometimes cringeworthy situations. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that communication could help alleviate so many of the roadblocks that have been erected between these stubborn, damaged characters. But will they ever learn to start talking with each other?

Hilarity and heartbreak travel hand-in-hand in this snarky but never mean-spirited summer read, perfect for reading en route to the next wedding to which you’re invited.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on June 9, 2017

The People We Hate at the Wedding
by Grant Ginder

  • Publication Date: June 6, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Flatiron Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250095204
  • ISBN-13: 9781250095206