Author: Martha Reynolds
Title: A Jingle Valley Wedding
Genre: Women’s Fiction
This story explores the relational struggles of Julie Tate, a thirty-four-year-old career woman who starts to find her life lonely and unfulfilling. When her brother leaves the family farm and moves to Arizona, she’s the only one left, and her best friend, Freddy, convinces her that she can turn the place into a destination wedding venue.
Julie and Freddy try to find dates in their new neighborhood while renovating the farm, but there seems to be no single men left for either of them…yet each time they start to despair, something new turns up to help them through their difficulties.
The story follows Julie, Freddy, and Thomas, Julie’s brother, as he tries to start his new life in Arizona. The narration is realistic, to the point of leaving some questions unanswered, and the novel is definitely a celebration of relationships rather than a romance, as much of the interactions between the men Julie and Freddy find are left off the page.
In fact, Thomas’s romance is perhaps given more focus than one might expect, but the story is a celebration of family and friends, and seeing how Thomas navigates his new romance becomes just as important as the start-up troubles of Julie and Freddy on the farm.
The plot moves along quickly, but it doesn’t rush Julie into her struggles of planning weddings. In fact, more time is given to whether she should quit her job and how to handle her resignation, to where the book is more about making major decisions and enduring the day-to-day challenges of a small business than in ironing out the planning details themselves.
The cast is fairly narrow, yet Freddy is an unapologetic gay man who is well-presented throughout the story. His own romance is given equal importance in this story rather than left to the sidelines, but like all the romances in this book, the details are largely left out of the narration and remain in the domain of the readers’ imaginations.
The descriptions are plentiful but the story’s focus tends to be on how Julie, Freddy, and Thomas feel rather than offering a panorama on what they’re experiencing. Thus, certain story elements, like Julie’s family dining table, are dwelt on in detail while others, like just how many farm animals the farm had or what room Freddy takes over when he stays at the farm, are left out of the picture. This lets the story move along quickly, becoming a powerful experience for readers to navigate, but some might wish for a bit more immersion.
Readers looking for a contemporary story rich in humor and likable characters will enjoy this story. Family and friends are just as important as romantic partners in this novel, and it celebrates the possibilities of how taking chances and following dreams can be difficult but rewarding. The story beautifully offers readers a fun getaway to a remote, rural part of Massachusetts where kind neighbors and relaxing views are plentiful…and, if one is lucky, one might just find the perfect mate.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Editorial Review written by the Book Review Directory Production Team. To receive a similarly honest, professional review for one of your own books, click here.