Book Review: Arranged, by Catherine McKenzie

In Arranged, Catherine McKensie tells the story of Anne Blythe (yes, named after the Anne of Green Gables character after her marriage to Gilbert Blythe), a thirty-something year old woman who is having bad luck with love. So far this sounds like the plot to every other chick lit book out there, right? Well, I’ll be embarrassingly honest (for an English major, anyway) – I was likely to read it anyway because I enjoy this overtold love story. I really need to stop pretending I like to read intelligent literature. However, I digress. Arranged is actually a slightly different take on the chick lit story. Fed up with staying in long-term relationships with the wrong men, and wanting what all her friends and family have (marriage and kids), Anne decides to sign up for an arranged marriage.

The arranged marriage situation described in the book is not all that different from the arranged marriages that still take place today in various cultures. Though the service puts everyone who chooses to have an arranged marriage to a variety of psychological and compatibility tests, and puts them into therapy, the two halves of the couple still do not meet until the day before their wedding, where they have a matter of a couple hours (however long it takes to have dinner) to decide if they want to marry or not.

Despite all of this, Anne still decides to go through with the plan, and it leads her to Jack. They hit it off right away and they decide to go through with the arranged marriage, much to the shock and concern of Anne’s family and friends (who are led to believe that they simply met on vacation and got married). Of course, all is not what it seems and you will soon find that there is more to Jack than initially meets the eye. You can tell early on that, though Jack seems great and he and Anne are compatible with each other, there is something slightly off. I wasn’t able to figure out exactly what was going on, but perhaps the more astute reader will put their finger on it before the end of the book.

Arranged was an enjoyable, light read from beginning to end. The Anne of Green Gables references got annoying after a while, and seemed a little forced, but other than that I liked the characters and could understand what frustrated Anne was going through. And, honestly, though I would never do it, I could understand the appeal of wanted to go through with the arranged marriage, to cut out all the drama and just have someone else make all your decisions for you. Interestingly enough, in the end, the author didn’t exactly write off the whole arranged marriage thing as a terrible idea, but it wasn’t presented as a brilliant plan either. I think it was to show that, even if someone else does make all the decisions, that no one really does have the solution.

I recommend Arranged, particularly for a nice day at the beach!

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