Vision in White, by Nora Roberts

As everyone who reads the Wordcandy blog knows, we have serious problems with the price of Nora Roberts’s latest book, Vision in White. What could possibly justify charging sixteen dollars for a paperback? Is there something special about the story itself? The way the book was made? Or has Ms. Roberts lost her massive fortune on the stock market, and needs to make a zillion dollars ASAP? (The short answers to these questions are: no, not really, and not that I know of.) I knew I’d regret buying this sucker, but I felt compelled to find out for myself*.

Vision in White is the first book in a planned quartet featuring four childhood friends—Parker, Laurel, Emma, and Mac, the co-founders of Vows, a comprehensive wedding service. Mac is Vows’ in-house photographer. Content with her job and trio of best friends (and traumatized by her absentee father and selfish mother), she’s never had a serious relationship, but English teacher Carter Maguire hopes to change that. He’s been carrying a torch for Mac since high school, and when his sister hires Vows to plan her wedding he decides it is finally time to make his move.

To give the devil his due, parts of Vision in White are a lot of fun. Carter is adorably nerdy, and his earnest courtship of Mac is funny and sweet. There are several excellent scenes featuring Carter’s co-worker Bob, who pictures himself (groundlessly) as a modern Cyrano de Bergerac. The wedding-planning stuff is lively and interesting—there’s a particularly awesome sequence featuring a cheating Best Man, a cheated-upon Maid of Honor, and the Best Man’s new floozy, who threatens to crash one of Vows' perfectly-orchestrated weddings. And, for all you typography/book-construction nuts out there, Vision in White is very nicely put together, with elegant fonts, quality paper, and those faux hand-torn edges.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book is weak—really weak. Roberts has used the traumatized childhood = social paralysis thing before, and to better effect. Mac’s crappy childhood isn’t dramatic enough to carry a plot climax, and her mother (the story’s primary antagonist) is simultaneously too evil to be believable as a real person and not evil enough to work as an out-and-out villain. It’s not that any of these plot elements are horrible, exactly, but nothing about them justifies that jaw-dropping price jump.

So, after considerable thought, I finally came up with a theory about the new price tag: it’s the wedding theme. See, weddings make people insane. (My father’s family owns a florist shop, so I know whereof I speak.) Even cost-conscious weddings are so rife with unexpected expenses—your grandmother informs you that your third cousins once removed will be terribly offended if they’re not invited, etc.—that the people involved eventually start plunking down their credit cards at the smallest flash of tulle. Vision in White came out in April, high season for summer wedding planning. The sequel, Bed of Roses, comes out in December, just in time for the New Year/Valentine’s Day weddings. All those brides and bridesmaids and mothers-of-the-brides will probably buy these books without batting an eye. After all, who cares about spending $16 on a book when you’ve just dropped five hundred dollars on a gym membership to get down to your ideal wedding weight, or four hundred dollars on monogrammed napkins, or two hundred and fifty bucks on a hideous bridesmaid dress with a lavender butt bow?

...those of us who have no wedding plans to put things in perspective just have to suck it up, apparently.

*Although I did some serious comparison shopping first, and ended up spending $9.50… still, alas, about two dollars too many.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


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