When I read the publisher’s short description for A Catered Affair by Sue Margolis, I started laughing and knew I had to read the book. If you’re looking for a fun beach read, this one definitely fits the bill!
Thirty-four-year-old Tally is a human-rights attorney while her lesbian sister, Scarlett, is a stand-up comedian. Tally’s mom, Shelley, is a ditzy widow living in the London suburbs whose phone number is so close to a suicide hot line’s that she gets calls from distraught people at least four to five times a week. Instead of passing them on to the hot line, she plays amateur psychologist. She loves helping these people, she’s hooked on the drama and she really does mean well. Even though Tally has tried repeatedly to make her mom see that she’s not qualified to do this, her mom refuses to change her phone number or direct people to the correct number.
“Jean, listen to me. I need you to come off the ledge and get back into your apartment…No, please calm down…Don’t yell. I’ve got a chicken in the oven.”
When Tally drops by to let her mom know Josh, a successful Jewish doctor, has asked her to marry him, she’s not surprised that her feminist mom isn’t thrilled but it still gets to her that her mom can’t be happier for her.
“According to the Jewish mother handbook, you’re supposed to weep tears of joy and tell me that finally you can go to your grave a happy woman.”
When Tally began dating Josh, she knew he had a long-standing problem with commitments, stemming from his dad leaving when he was small, but he told her he had gotten help and was over that. So when he finally proposed, she felt a profound relief because it was such a clear demonstration of his commitment to her and their relationship. She loves that he’s so conventional. She just wants to get married to him, live in a nice house and have kids. And it’s very important that he fits the model her father gave her just before he died. That logical advice has been Tally’s mantra for relationships ever since.
“It’s important you choose somebody who not only thinks like you do and shares your worldview but who also has a similar education and professional background.”
Tally’s on Cloud 9 making plans with Josh for the perfect wedding, which her Nana Ida insists on paying for. Finally everything is perfect and the big day arrives. Tally’s nervous because she’s late getting to the synagogue, thanks to traffic, but when she arrives she finds that Josh isn’t there yet. At first she just believes he must be stuck in traffic too but eventually she learns he isn’t coming at all. Josh wasn’t as over his commitment issues as he led her to believe, and has actually left for Scotland to avoid getting married.
Jewish brides do NOT get jilted! It’s unheard of! It just doesn’t happen! After the initial shock, Tally and her family decide the reception is already paid for and the food is going to waste – and people must be hungry – so let’s feed them. Tally can’t stand the sight of food but she gets so drunk and maudlin that she starts hitting on all of the waiters while they’re cleaning up afterward. She even hits on the gay caterer, Kenny Platters, and gets him to dance with her. She learns he’s not gay and hits on him again, and immediately passes out before he can even say anything. The next morning she’s embarrassed to find out he not only carried her up to her penthouse suite but held her head while she worshiped the porcelain god over and over and over again. She’s even more embarrassed, maudlin and mortified in the light of day.
What’s Tally going to do? First of all, she’s determined to pay Nana Ida back for the wedding costs and get herself back together but she’s devastated. Will she continue to follow her head or will her heart win out? You gotta read the book to find out. I laughed until I hurt while reading A Catered Affair. It’s a delightful romp with a theme lots of women can empathize with but it’s got a lovely message too.
A Catered Affair was released on August 2nd. If you’d like to buy it, just click on your preferred online bookseller in the upper right column.
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