Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can’t seem to get it right.
After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she’s engaged, Anne can’t help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn’t a dating service; it’s an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it-and the company’s success rate-the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn’t it work for her?
A few months later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, it seems to be working out-until Anne learns that Jack, and the company that arranged their marriage, are not what they seem at all.
Ever since I finished reading Catherine McKenzie’s wonderful novel, Spin, I was itching to get my hands on some more of her books. It’s always so great to find a gem of a Canadian writer that I felt I had to snatch up everything she had to offer! When I was wandering through the bookstore the other day, waiting for the longest mechanic appointment ever, I picked up a copy of Arranged, which was just released in Canada at the beginning of this month.
Knowing I’d have some time to wait for my car, I dove right in. Immediately I was hooked.
I loved the premise of this novel: A writer in her close-to-mid-30’s — who has had a string of bad relationships and is feeling like she’ll never meet “the one” — breaks up with her boyfriend. On her way home from the breakup — to her new home, I might add — she finds a business card on the ground for a company that goes a step further from the usual dating service — they arrange marriages.
It was easy to love the main character in the book, Anne (whose mother named her after Anne from Anne of Green Gables). I could understand her struggles and wanted everything to work out for her. I’d like to say that it was easy to love the guy she was set up with, but I really didn’t at first — I mean, he seemed okay, but I think I was most thrown off by the fact that he seemed too into them doing “the dirty deed” together (and I don’t mean the marriage!).
Though, just because I didn’t really enjoy Jack’s character (though he grew on me), I still really loved the book. While I kind of knew what was going to happen in the end, there were still plenty of twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting. And it was funny! Just as in Spin, Catherine McKenzie knows how to tell a good story and make you laugh along the way — even if the situations are less than desirable.
Arranged was a wonderful read. I would definitely rank McKenzie with the likes of Sophie Kinsella or Emily Giffin — she is a wonderful storyteller and I can’t wait to read more of her works!
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