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 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."