Some novels leave you wishing you knew people as cool as the characters. Who didn't want to slip back in time to befriend the wise and witty Elizabeth Bennett after reading Pride and Prejudice? But best-selling author Laura Zigman's new novel Her will more likely leave you thanking your lucky stars that you don't know anyone quite like the neurotic bride-to-be Elise.
Her is a sharp, hilarious chronicle of the months leading up to Elise's wedding. The invitations are ordered, the caterer booked. Elise and fiancÅ½ Donald are steadily, if not entirely blissfully, working up to the big day. Then Donald's impossibly perfect ex, Adrienne, moves to town and Elise's inner jealousy invades. Elise finds herself scrolling through Donald's cell phone calls at 2 a.m. and cruising past Adrienne's apartment to peer at the shadows inside.
Most of this is understandable. After all, it is her, the trust fund uber-woman in designer clothes. With a flashy museum job and a brilliant Yale professor father who studied Albert Einstein's brain, Adrienne is a formidable presence. And she does seem intent on recapturing Donald, whom she so willingly gave up years ago. But there comes a point in the novel when Elise's incessant obsession with this other woman creeps close to going over the top. Instead of jolting her back to her senses, Elise's friends go along for the ride, literally. When Elise decides it's time to find out why Donald has been visiting Adrienne, she doesn't simply ask him. She enlists her best friend Gayle to slump with her in a car and spy on the pair. Elise represents what women everywhere hope they wouldn't become if caught in her position, but what we suspect we're capable of in the end. She isn't the embodiment of grace under pressure, but she is honest, as is Zigman's writing. Her is as addicting as Zigman's previous work (Animal Husbandry, Dating Big Bird). The story is so lively and funny that even when you want to shred Elise's $500 sweater, you can't help but hope she and Donald live happily ever after. Amy Scribner is a writer in Washington, D.C.