The Bride Will Keep Her Name

It's easy to feel like you've lost a few IQ points when reading chick lit these days. Fortunately, Jan Goldstein's The Bride Will Keep Her Name is more than just your average guilty-pleasure beach read. This surprisingly incisive, fun story goes beyond sappy-romance conventions and dips fabulously in mystery, political intrigue, spy-novel thrills, and laugh-out-loud comedy. Manhattan art gallery manager Maddison Mandelbaum is engaged to a handsome, ambitious reporter, but one week before the wedding, she gets an anonymous email linking him to the death of a call girl with Eliot Spitzer–like connections. Her fast-paced investigation to uncover whether her man is fianc‚ or fugitive has the momentum of The Da Vinci Code -- and a similar touch of unrealistic, magical convenience -- but Bride shines most in its heartfelt exploration of a deliciously intriguing question: Do we ever really know the people we love? Through uncovering layers of personal and familial secrets, Madison learns that a successful marriage has less to do with knowing absolutely who your partner is before the wedding and more with being willing to find out for the rest of your life. "That's part of the fun. And the nightmare," says her wise dad, Marty, whose relationship with her is the most poignant aspect of the book. Goldstein's accessible, unclunky writing keeps the pages turning, and his knack for tapping into the female psyche is astonishing. Raising daughters with his wife, Bonnie, he has said of writing this novel, "There's long been a twenty-eight-year-old bride inside of me just waiting to burst out." With a story this entertaining, maybe more men should get in touch with their feminine side.

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.