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Book Review: I Take You by Eliza Kennedy

Lily Wilder is a New York lawyer who seems to have it all.  In the week leading up to her wedding to brilliant, charming archaeologist Will, Lily returns home to her Key West family for the first time in over a decade.  Once there, she’s confronted with the harsh reality that she might not be marriage material–or is she simply not marrying the right guy?  As she boozes it up and makes some decisions that might seem questionable at best, Lily is forced to face her demons head on, and ends up with some surprising conclusions.

Readers looking for a straightforward romantic comedy are going to be disappointed here.  Eliza Kennedy’s debut novel has teeth, and it isn’t afraid to show them.  The result is a frequently funny, smart, subversive take on the romantic comedy.  Despite a few implausibilities, this is an entertaining romp with a hidden intellectual side, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

Kennedy has an ear for snappy dialogue, and each page is chock full of one liners and zingers.  There are a few standout scenes, mostly between Lily and her best friend Freddie, and there are moments where Lily is so audacious it’s astonishing.  She’s one hundred percent herself always, and she shines brigtest when she’s taking down sexist old-boy’s-club lawyers.

The novel’s main misstep is when it tries to tackle Lily’s sexual proclivities.  She opines at one point that women sometimes just want sex because they want sex, but it doesn’t seem that it’s totally true for her throughout the course of the novel.  It’s also not a particularly astounding revelation in a post-Sex & the City world.  Here is where the novel’s biggest weakness is, but it’s not enough to derail the rest of the novel, which is so, so much fun.

Eliza Kennedy is an author to watch, and this subversive, smart little novel is the perfect antidote to the well-trodden happily-ever-after.  This would make for a great movie (can we make that happen, actually?) and would also make for a great book club discussion book, as there’s likely to be differing views (and strong ones at that) about the characters and their actions.  Recommended.

I Take You by Eliza Kennedy. Crown: 2015. Library copy.


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