Saturday, February 21, 2009

Midnight Champagne by A. Manette Ansay

Summary: April Liesgang and Caleb Shannon have known each other for just three short months, so their Valentine's Day wedding at a chapel near the shores of Lake Michigan has both families in an uproar. As the festivities unfold (and the cash bar opens), everyone has an opinion and a lively prediction about April and Caleb's union, each the reflection of a different marital experience.

Meanwhile, at the nearby Hideaway Lodge, a domestic quarrel ends in tragedy. As April and Caleb's life together begins, death parts another man and woman in angry violence-and as the two stories gradually intersect, their juxtaposition explores the tangles roots of vulnerability and desire.

By the time the last polka has been danced and the bouquet tossed, Midnight Champagne has cast an extraordinary spell. From the novel's opening epigraph from Chekhov-"If you fear loneliness, then marriage is not for you"-to its final moments in the honeymoon suite, A. Manette Ansay weaves tenderness and fury, passion and wonder into a startling tapestry of love in all its paradox and power.

My Review: Knowing that I had a couple of hectic, over-scheduled weeks ahead of me, I searched my bookshelf for a novel that was short and wouldn't quite have that pull which makes me neglect all but the absolute necessary in order to continue reading. Seeing that it is February and that this is a story of a Valentine's wedding, "Midnight Champagne" seemed the logical choice. I believed that this would be a light love story with a touch of mystery. I got what I asked for...almost.

"Midnight Champagne" definitely didn't pull me in. Though the descriptions of the setting were quite vivid, the characters were very much one-dimensional, making them impossible to connect with. And I really wanted to connect with some of them, especially the quirky grandmother who has found a penny everyday since her husband's death except on the days when another death of someone she knows had occurred. She sounds interesting, but once her original introduction was finished, she was only included in small doses throughout the book. The author did this with so many of the characters that the end result was disjointed.

And if it's a love story you are looking for, skip this one. It was hard for me to even believe that the two main characters, Caleb and April, were even in love. Although we got a fairly good look into their pasts, the author just skimmed over the few months they have spent together assuming that the reader would know that they must be in love since, afterall, it was their wedding day. It didn't work. To add to this loveless wedding, all of the guest no longer believe in love either (which I found to be rather unbelievable). They are consumed in thoughts of their own failed marriages due to infidelity, lack of intimacy, or spousal abuse. This all leads to a pretty depressing tale.

As for the touch of mystery the book promised, where was that? Sure some guy in the adjoining hotel killed his wife during an argument and then crashes the wedding without drawing attention from the suests. But I certainly wouldn't call this a mystery. It did, however, somewhat liven up the story for a few moments but wasn't meshed in well with the rest of the story.

Overall, I would say that "Midnight Champagne" served it's purpose for me, giving me some entertainment at a time I could not afford to entirely devote myself to a really good read. And thankfully it was a short read. Although I can't help thinking how much better this novel could have been if the author would have dropped a few of the characters and used another 100 pages to further develop the story.

My Rating: 2 Stars, I won't be recommending this book but it wasn't exactly horrible

If I had to sum this book up in one sentence it would be: A reflection of marriage on a windy day in a shallow cesspool.


MindySue said...

thanks for the heads up. i know what you mean about sometimes just picking a short book because you don't have the time to get really involved. i do that w/ books of short stories sometimes. though i'm going to give the COVER a big A. It's beautiful.

Sweet Em said...

That is the greatest one line summary ever!

Kim R. said...

After lookimg this over at you place I don't think I will pick it up. I talked to my a friend of mine and she said she LOVED it. In fact she loves all of Ansay's books.......different strokes I guess. Would you recomend Vinegar Hill?


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