‘The Proxy Marriage’ by Maile Meloy

The Proxy Marriage by Maile Meloy, 2012

The magic trick:

Writing a plot that feels a lot like a silly rom-com movie and making it believable and moving

This is a dangerous story. It flirts so close – both in premise and tone – to bad ‘90s romantic comedy. And yet… And yet…

It wins. It totally wins.

This is a positively delightful story. The premise is just odd enough and the characters just believable enough that you don’t mind the rom-com trappings. At least I didn’t mind it.

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding anyway? And that’s quite a trick on Meloy’s part.

The selection:

Through the musicals, he became friends with Bridey Taylor. Bridey had golden curls, like a Botticelli angel, and a face that didn’t go with them: a long, straight nose, dark eyes. She had a clear, bright mezzo-soprano voice and she wanted to be an actress. Her mother had left when Bridey was nine, and she had grown up with her father, a lawyer, who adored her. Bridey was confident, even a little vain, and she was good at school, except for math, which didn’t interest her. William helped her through trigonometry, teaching her the concepts at lunch before tests so she could forget them immediately afterward.

William had no girlfriends in high school, and his mother once sat him down at the table in her spotless kitchen and asked if he was gay. She said it would be fine with her. She loved him unconditionally, and they would figure out a way to tell his father. But William wasn’t gay. He was just absurdly, painfully in love with Bridey Taylor, who leaned on the piano and sang while he played, and he had no way of telling her. He was too shy to pursue other girls, even when the payoff seemed either likely or worth the agony. But he didn’t tell his mother that. It was too humiliating. He just stammered an unconvincing denial.

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