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Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married


Crescent Blues Book ViewsThree and one half moonsAvon Books (Hardcover), ISBN 0-380-97618-8
Sometimes a good narrator makes all the difference, and I can't think of a better guide through that sometimes glorious, sometimes embarrassing decade of life called "the twenties" than the hilarious Lucy Sullivan. In Marian Keyes' comic romance Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married, the lovable Ms. Sullivan keeps us laughing even in a couple of rather grim situations.  

Book: Marian Keyes, Lucy Sullivan Is Getting MarriedThe situations hardly matter, however. While I highly recommend this book, it's more for the storytelling and less for the story. People who read for plot won't enjoy Lucy's adventures as much as those who want to laugh out loud at a great turn of phrase, which happens at least once per page. 

Why are we supposed to believe that Lucy Sullivan is getting married, anyway? An Irishwoman living in London and working in the collections division of a rather generic and faceless corporation, Lucy doesn't even have a boyfriend when she and her co-workers Hetty, Megan and Meredia visit the mysterious psychic Mrs. Nolan.  

Mrs. Nolan predicts that Lucy will tie the knot within the year. Of course Mrs. Nolan also predicts that Hetty will soon meet the love of her life, which causes Hetty to burst into tears (small detail -- Hetty's already married). Within a week, however, Mrs. Nolan's predictions prove true for each of Lucy's co-workers, and Lucy herself acquires a new boyfriend, Gus. 

Here's where a cultural red flag goes up. Keyes, an Irishwoman, first published this book in England in 1996. Why did it take Lucy three years to float over to this side of the Atlantic? Was it that difficult to translate from the English to the American?  

Evidently, yes. For example, Gus downs a bunch of whiskeys and beers between two and three in the afternoon. Later that evening he drinks ten beers with dinner -- and expects the warm-hearted Lucy to pay, which she does. Here in the U. S., roommates and co-workers wouldn't speculate over whether or not Gus drank maybe a bit too much, they'd talk about that horrible man who was just like Gus and ruined that poor woman's life in that made-for-TV movie on the Lifetime channel. 

But Lucy hangs in there with the unreliable Gus, wrestles with her feelings while her good buddy Daniel dates her roommate, and manages a family crisis, all the while keeping her chin up and her quips coming fast and furious. She also goes out with Chuck, a poorly drawn cliché of an American boor (another reason Keyes needs to watch something like the Lifetime channel, so she can write American boors better next time) and finds herself attracted to the irreverent Jed, who replaces Hetty at work. Lucy throws dinner parties with her roomies, fails to vacuum often enough, eats lots of carry-out, and slowly grows up before our eyes. 

Lucy Sullivan may or may not actually get married, but she does have a happy ending. Anyone who does such a smashing job of entertaining the reader deserves nothing less. 

Elizabeth Sheley

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Readers Respond:

I have just finished reading this book. I found it highly entertaining and enjoyed the author's sharp wit. As a Brit myself, I thought that it was an accurate representation of British humour and Britons. However, I found myself annoyed at the many examples of American English that the book contained. Such examples are "gotten", "neighborhood", "candy", and so on. In it's place in an American novel, American English is fine, but in a story set in Britain, written by a British/Irish woman, I fail to see why so much American was used.