RSVP – Helen Warner ***Magic 100***

It’s Toby and Rachel’s wedding day on 17th July 2010 and you are cordially invited to celebrate their special day with them.

Clare, Anna and Ella are surprised to receive their invitation. For Anna, Toby was the love of her life, but something awful happened in the past that drove the pair apart. Clare is Anna’s best friend and encourages her to attend the wedding to get over Toby. Clare doesn’t subscribe to Anna’s belief of “The One” but it made to rethink this later on…Ella is a maneater, but the one man she wanted didn’t want her – Toby. The story is told through the viewpoints of Clare, Anna, Ella and Rachel, who is having doubts about her upcoming nuptials. Will any of these women find the happiness that they are seeking, and will the wedding go ahead without any hitches?

The wedding day itself actually takes place mid-way through the story, which was a surprise as I was expecting it to provide a climax to the story. However, it leaves a lot of room for the characters’ development although the pace of the story drops off slightly. Warner’s way of writing takes some getting used to – she writes as an outside observer commenting on the characters’ actions and thoughts, which feels a little detached. For the characters, you don’t really engage with them, which can be possibly attributed to Warner’s style. Yet, the choppy way in which she retells the story (using flashbacks and constant switching between the characters’ viewpoints and their stories) is something that keeps the reader captivated and longing to read how the rest of the story unfolds.

ANNA: at first, I sympathised with the character who has to deal with her feelings for Toby and the way Ella destroyed her relationship and happiness in her life. At the wedding, she finally gets her happy ending, and it feels like her story has been resolved far too early. Yet later on, it appears that things haven’t been fully resolved between Toby and Anna in terms of the past. Anna has trust issues in terms of Rachel and her “realisation” at the end when Toby fails to show up at the church on time. This isn’t addressed properly which gives the impression that their marriage isn’t going to be easy. From feeling sympathy for Anna and liking her, she ends up annoying.

RACHEL – her story was a little dull but you do feel sorry for the way Toby treats her, and yet she behaves with dignity and grace, which is admirable. It is also good that she finds love at the end.

CLARE – a great friend to Anna, you feel for her when she has her own troubles in life and love. Straight-talking but a compassionate character, she seems to be the best character out of the four.

ELLA – totally unlikeable as she is a bitch to start off with, and this continues later on in the book. It is only after her husband dies that she changes character (whether this is Warner’s attempt to redeem Ella and make more likeable remains to be seen) and she goes through tragic events, but her story ends on an optimistic note.

A riveting story, although there are a few issues with some of the events, the characters aren’t particularly likeable and the pace drops off towards the end, but worth the read. 3.5 stars



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