978-0-688-15244-4 / 9780688152444

Midnight Champagne


Publisher:William Morrow



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About the book:

A. Manette Ansay's novel about a wedding day 30 miles north of the Illinois state line has some of the earthy authenticity and knowing emotional detail of Jane Smiley. Yet the comic, melancholic voice in Midnight Champagne is very much her own. The scene is Valentine's Day at the Great Lakes Chapel and Hideaway Lodge, amid Wisconsin winter fields "the featureless white of amnesia." The place used to be a raunchy roadhouse where "room 33" was (and perhaps still is!) the code word for an assignation. A less libidinous lady ghost is also said to wander the halls. But the real nightmares here are of the everyday variety. April, 22 years old, a rebel artist, is abruptly marrying her new boyfriend from Nashville. Her family can't see why she dropped her all-too-steady ex-beau Barney, who sold Scotchgard products at the local Magic Carpet. Brooding Barney, invited to the wedding by mistake, can't see why either--though flashbacks illuminate the reason.

As the nuptials hit various snags (like a storm that knocks out the lights), April's family and friends reflect on vanishing marital passion, the presence of an ex-husband's pregnant young wife, the emotional mosh pit of the bride's tossed bouquet, and the kids'-eye view of it all. One does yearn for a more take-charge omniscient narrator to fuse the many characters' insightful musings--the novel's got a scattery feel. But it's a privilege to meet these people, visit this real-seeming place, and savor such flavorful sentences. --Tim Appelo

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