Always The Bridesmaid is one of her older novels, published back in 2003, but I stumbled across it in the ‘3 for £5’ section of The Works the other day. It’s available on Amazon for around £4, if you don’t have The Works near you.
Amy is a bit down in the dumps to say the least. She has spilt up with her fiancé and is still at the stage where friends and family tip-toe around, tilt their heads sympathetically when they talk to you and you doubt your own choices in love, life and everything else. When she finds out that, what is supposed to be, her best friend has jumped into the arms (and bed) of her ex, Amy hits rock bottom. To make it worse, her little sister has just come back from Australia with a tanned and fit rugby player with impossibly perfect teeth and a rock on her finger, and her remaining best friend’s long term boyfriend has decided to make an honest woman of her too.
Frustrated with her inability to make good of her long held dreams of becoming a children’s presenter, mournfully sad that she is surrounded by talk of wedding cakes, dresses and decorations and down right miserable that she will have to be bridesmaid twice, Amy quickly becomes a nightmare to be around. Will anything pull her out of this bad snap? Is she ever going to find her night in shining armour? Or will she have to come to terms with the fact that she will, for eternity, be Always The Bridesmaid?
I have mixed emotions about this book. Sarah Webb does what she does very well. I have read a few of her other books and enjoyed them for what they are. This one was a bit different for me. Whilst I enjoyed it in the end and would probably recommend it, if this is your kind of thing, I found that it was very slow to get going. I always knew where the story was going, it is pretty much par for the course in this kind of book, but I felt like I spent the first half of the book wishing it would get there. This was such a shame, because when the story eventually did get ‘there’, I really enjoyed it.
I think that one of the main reasons that I found the first half of the book so trying, is that the Amy, the main character, is a little irritating. I understand that she is a bit sad about the demise of her relationship, but it seems that she didn’t particularly enjoy it anyway and she was the one that ended it – so I couldn’t see why she mourned it quite so much. By the start of the book, Amy has been separated from her ex for a while, so we don’t really see what went on, but throughout the rest of the story there are flashbacks to events in her relationships and they don’t exactly paint a good picture of it. I guess I just found it hard to understand why she was so negative. Amy has a negative outlook in general and she is mean and snappy to her family and friends and I generally found it quite tiresome. That said, when she finally does cheer up a bit she becomes a really likeable character that you want to succeed and can empathise with.
I also thought that the basic setting for the story was a really good one. It brings a level of escapism that made me stick with the book even when I was getting a little too tired of Amy. She works in an independent children’s book shop. I would love to do that and I think that anyone who is a serious bookworm has always harboured a desire to do the same. The bookshop is run by a lovely lady who has a genuine passion for it, which is lovely to read about. There are lots of events in the shop that allow the author to paint lovely images on your mind of displays from The Wizard of Oz and Dr Seuss, that really do warm the heartstrings and remind you of a simpler time.
Sarah Webb herself grew up in a town in Ireland that is the mirror image of the one in the story and her passion for that town comes across in her descriptions of it in the book. It is, in my opinion, a perfect place for the book to be set.
The secondary characters in the book are everything you expect from this genre – handsome men with a bit of mystery, boisterous girls with a happy-go-lucky attitude and friends that are rock solid throughout thick and thin. Sarah Webb has written all of her secondary characters really well and they fit in nicely with the story and the style of the book.
I would, as I said earlier, recommend this book to anyone who likes the chick-lit genre, although my recommendation would come with the warning that it is a little tedious to begin with, but is worth the wait in the end.