Lucy Gray–with a name like that, how could she not be a romance heroine?–opens HONEYMOON ALONE, Nicole Macaulay’s witty debut novel as the maid of honor for her sister Marian’s wedding. After her date, Ian, is caught making out with another guest, Lucy trudges over to the psychic (because it’s that kind of wedding: an 80s-themed nightmare), where she’d told “You are waiting for your life to begin” and to watch for the signs.
One of those signs, of course, is to go on Marian’s London honeymoon (she paid for everything before second-guessing herself and booking a second one) while posing as her newlywed sister. On the trip, she runs into Cary Stewart, a former classmate-turned-actor, who agrees to play her “husband.” Why this ruse is necessary is never explained, but it leads to just the sort of kooky rom-com that would have starred Meg Ryan back in the day.
The characters are stock types–the bridezilla, the handsome stranger, the meddling parents–yet they have depth. The premise is pedestrian–one sister pretending to be another–yet with enough plot twists to be compelling. When her best friend wonders why her family is so worried about her perpetual singlehood, Lucy replies, “They never watched Mary Tyler Moore totally make it on her own.”
There is occasional overwriting, as when Lucy is cornered by a nosy aunt and uncle and “hop[es] the fire alarm in the building will go off any moment, giving me a legitimate excuse to turn and run away from this conversation which is exactly what I’d love to do right now.” (Ending after “moment” would have been funnier.) And the family blog posts between chapters are extraneous and confusing. (Are they comments? Separate entries? Are “family blogs” a thing?) Such missteps, though, amount to a few loose threads in this elegant tapestry of a book.
Nicole Macaulay’s HONEYMOON ALONE is a delightful. hijinks-y, laugh-out-loud funny tale sure to satisfy readers (regardless of their marital status).
~Anthony Aycock for IndieReader