Sunday, May 6, 2012

Review: The Wedding Beat by Devan Sipher

The Wedding Beat by Devan Sipher is a romantic comedy and it is unique in that it features a male protagonist. Gavin Greene writes the “Vows” column for The New York Times so his life is all weddings, all the time. Despite the healthy dose of skepticism for everlasting love given to him by his job, Gavin is a romantic at heart who is looking for true love and a partner. He has been unlucky in love but when he meets Melinda at a party he is finally compelled to overcome his insecurities and turn his luck around. Easier said than done - they part without making a real connection and Gavin is left to search the city for the one he believes will be his true love.

The Wedding Beat is humorous but with more serious truths weaved throughout. I enjoyed the sarcastic wit of Gavin and found myself chuckling throughout the book. For example, there is this comment as Gavin worries about losing his job at The Paper:
I also loved this exchange with his parents via cell phone - I have had almost the exact same call with my parents more times than I care to count:
“I’m putting you on speakerphone in the car. Can you hear us?”
“I can hear you. Where are you?”
“Gavin, tell us if you hear us”, she repeated.
“You hit the mute button”, I heard my father say. “That’s impossible", she said. “I don’t even know where the mute button is."
I hung up and called back. The phone rang several times before my mother picked up. There was much amplified jiggling throughout, as if the handset were being scraped against every surface in their vehicle.
While his parents’ relationship gives Gavin pause about lifelong partnership, his grandmother and her marriage to Bernie impresses upon him that it is important to have someone with whom to share your life. Of all of Gavin’s relationships, his relationship with his grandmother is the one I most enjoyed. She is a fun loving octogenarian who still goes for a daily run and Gavin calls her every day to check in. When his grandmother’s fourth husband, Bernie, is hospitalized, Gavin witnesses what it really means to care for a partner and he wants it for himself. Comedy aside, Gavin is truly looking for a partner and in this quote he reflects on his single on his single status:

I was happy she [his friend Hope] had found someone, but her success made me all the more aware of my failure. I knew that “failure” was not a politically correct or psychologically helpful word to use, but that’s what it felt like. I had failed in the most basic of life’s tasks. Oh I know: In our evolved, multicultural world all lifestyles are equally valid, but for the billion or so people who don’t watch Oprah, being alone violates societal and biological norms. From a macroeconomic perspective, living by myself in a Manhattan apartment was a waste of limited housing and energy resources. Taking an even broader view, according to Darwin (and Richard Dawkins), I was on this planet solely for the purpose of procreating, and to the best of my knowledge, I hadn’t done so. It was not longer a matter of losing out on two-for-one airline deals; I was letting down the species.
This serious side of Gavin is a nice balance to the humor and lighter fare in the book and keeps the novel from being superficial.

If you have ever spent Sunday morning perusing the wedding section of the Times or are a romantic at heart looking for a different take on the girl searches for boy tale, The Wedding Beat is for you. It is a fun novel peppered with keen observations of modern love.
 Thank you to Penguin for providing a review copy.


  1. Ah this sounds really good! I had a copy but we had a little flooding issue and I had this book in a tote bag on the floor and it was destroyed. =( I still haven't told the publicist.. need to do that! I'll keep on the lookout for this book!

  2. I definitely recommend it - too bad your copy got ruined.

  3. I find myself drawn to lighter books these days, inbetween reading mysteries. This looks like one I'd enjoy.

  4. I was excited to read your review of this book because I read about it in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago. My curiosity was piqued when I read that the author was the writer of the real life "Vows" columns in the NYT for several years.

    This book sounds like a great read...serious truths about life with sarcastic humor and wit throughout. Awesome! And it's nice to read a book with a male protagonist occasionally.

    Great review, I'm glad you enjoyed this book!


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