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Friday, July 18, 2014

A Wedding in Provence by Ellen Sussman



Release Date - July 15, 2014

Ellen Sussman
Ballantine Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

No family is perfect. Everyone has secrets, fears, and misgivings they keep hidden. This is very true of the characters in Ellen Sussman's latest novel - A Wedding in Provence.

Brody, a widower, and Olivia, a divorcee, are throwing caution to the wind and getting married. This 50-something couple feel they're better prepared for marriage now and plan an intimate wedding at Olivia's friend's inn on the Mediterranean coastline in Cassis, France. While it seems impossible to imagine anything going wrong in this idyllic spot, Olivia and Brody soon find themselves wondering what they've gotten themselves into.

Olivia's friend and husband (the inn owners) are the first to display signs of trouble when a woman shows up and causes serious tension between them. Next, Olivia's oldest daughter, Nell, arrives with a stranger on her arm, a man she just met on the plane. Olivia's younger daughter, Carly, shows up without her long-time beau, and it's clear that something is amiss there, too. Even Brody's mother is having personal issues that distract her from the upcoming wedding. As Olivia and Brody try to plan their dream wedding, they cannot help but also feel obligated to fix everything that is going wrong around them.

There are two things that surprised me with A Wedding in Provence. The first was the length. At under 200 pages, I often find stories of that length feel rushed. I never experienced that with Ellen Sussman's novel. It feels complete. The second was how drawn I was to each character. I could see the naivety of some, sensed exactly what was happening with others before they even knew it, and really couldn't wait to see Olivia and Brody get married. As dysfunctional as some of the characters were, they felt real, like family.

This ended up being a memorable read that left me feeling incredibly satisfied and very happy I picked it to review. I get a lot of books and requests for review, and I'm learning to be a little more selective, and I am very, very glad I didn't overlook this gem!

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