Book review: ‘The Wedding Beat’ by Devan Sipher

The Wedding BeatThirty-something writer Gavin Greene is used to romantic settings, tearful vows and candlelit dinners — just not his own. As a wedding columnist for New York’s leading newspaper, Gavin attends intimate soirees, hob-knobs with the rich and recaps their events for readers. It’s an enjoyable gig — even when it can’t help but remind him of what he’s missing.

And that would be . . . someone like Melinda. After a brief encounter at a New Year’s party, Gavin is smitten with the “young Sandra Bullock” lookalike — a woman with an adventurous spirit and winning smile. He loses his gumption before asking for her number and, in classic New York fashion, she disappears into the crowd. Determined to find her, Gavin sets out on a cross-town adventure — and discovers her in an unlikely place.

Devan Sipher’s The Wedding Beat is, if you’ll pardon the term, dude lit. Chick lit with a goatee. Sipher’s male narrator brings a refreshing change of pace to the classic city love stories I gobble whole — and I couldn’t help but fall for the cute, sweet and occasionally clueless Gavin.

This quick read is the sort of story I escape into during periods of extreme stress, you know? When you need something light, frothy and fun. Though the story meanders into deeper issues at points (the state of journalism, for one), the fast pace keeps you moving through Gavin’s adventures around New York — and into the ballrooms of the city’s fabulous brides. Those who love weddings will find plenty of details to pour through via Gavin’s assignments, and it was hard not to get in a bell-ringing, engagement-seeking mood. It’s obvious why Gavin, a single guy in his late thirties, would find listening to others’ love stories tedious after a while . . . and why he’d feel like “a wedding beat” was continuously pounding in his psyche.

Though never specifically named, Gavin’s paper is obviously The New York Times — and his attempts to survive cutbacks and lay-offs felt alarmingly familiar. The author’s modern touches — like the staff’s need to blog and tweet, aimed to keep our industry from becoming obsolete — were interesting and true. Delving into the author’s background, surprise: Sipher is a Vows columnist for the Times.

James Marsden in 27 DressesSo, you know, Gavin is basically Sipher. And Sipher is Gavin. And rumor has it James Marsden’s character in “27 Dresses,” pictured at right, is based on him — a plot also woven into The Wedding Beat. So the plot thickens.

If you’re a fan of those types of movies (and I totally am), you’re going to eat this one up. With just enough romance to keep me hooked, Gavin is a quirky but loveable guy — a character you can’t help but want to be happy. Though he takes a few missteps in his quest to find the ever-elusive but unforgettable Melinda, he’s a genuine guy — and a very charming one. It was fun to read a romance from a male perspective — and penned by a male author.

So yes, The Wedding Beat:  fun, quick and very enjoyable. I listened to the audio during three days of a super-long commute and wouldn’t have wanted to pass the time any other way.

4 out of 5!

ISBN: 0451235797 • GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor website
Audio copy borrowed from my local library

About the audio: Narrator Peter Berkrot plays an excellent Gavin: a guy who is simultaneously confident and anxious, worried and in control. It’s a quick listen — just over seven hours — and a humorous one.

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