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Staff Picks – The Prairie Bridesmaid by Daria Salamon

Anna, Renate, Julia and Sara are a group of nearing 30 year olds who have been friends since childhood. The grew up in, and remain living in, Winnipeg, each struggling with their own problems in their own way. The Prairie Bridesmaid by Daria Salamon features Anna, a high school English teacher, who has herself deeply immersed in a bad relationship.

Anna, unfortunately, meets the charismatic (and troubled) Adam when she is a mere 21 years old and still uncertain of her own place in the world. She is pursuing a degree in education until she can figure out what she truly wants to do with her life. (This level of commitment does not work out well for her students.) Adam, the artist, sees her as a blank canvass and she, for a while, goes along with his demands. As Adam’s own personal demons become harder to contain, the relationship breaks down and her friends stage a relationship intervention (complete with printouts from the Internet with directions on how to stage an intervention – can you drink at an intervention, asks Anna).Anna takes comfort from her friends, her resident squirrell and her Baba. Her Baba is one of the more memorable characters in this book. A feisty octogenarian who is losing her eyesight, but tenaciously holds on to her independence on her farm. In one unforgettable scene she chops off the top of her own finger as she decapitates her chickens.

The Praire Bridesmaid is Salamon’s first novel. In addition to publishing short fiction, she also wrote a monthly humour column for the Winnipeg Free Press on wedding planning. One of the side stories (and funnier scenes in the book) is friend Sara’s wedding obsession. Sara had a chaotic childhood and seeks order and perfection in her life. She is to be married and this wedding is her masterpiece. Her world has become encapsulated by this event. A pregnant bridesmaid’s water breaks during a dress fitting – save the dress, says Sara. The baby must have heart surgery? Being a bridesmaid will take your mind off it, says Sara. You arrive at the wedding rehearsal late and bloody (think decapitating chickens and lost digits). You only think of yourself, says Sara. Sara is an excellent bridezilla.

So, with weddings and Chick Lit in mind, here are some more titles that might prove equally enjoyable.

The Bride Will Keep Her Name by Jan Goldstein – “A bride-to-be and her two best friends investigate a mystery involving her fiancé and the questionable death of a young escort, in a race against the clock for the truth, while still juggling last-minute wedding plans.”

The Wedding Season by Katie Fforde – “Sarah is a wedding planner hiding a rather inconvenient truth – she doesn’t believe in love. Or not for herself, anyway. As she prepares for two more weddings, including a big celebrity wedding and the marriage of her own sister, surely Sarah doesn’t even have time to think about love. Does she?”

The Best Day of Someone Else’s Life by Kerry Reichs – The story of a serial bridesmaid who discovers everything she never wanted to know about weddings.. and more than she ever imagined about love.”–Back cover.

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