Title: My Daughter’s Wedding
Author: Gretel Killeen
Published: February 23rd 2021
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 3 stars
A heart-aching comedy about three generations of mother-daughter love
Nora Fawn’s daughter, Hope, disappeared four years ago. Nora has never known why. Refusing to answer her mother’s calls, emails or texts, Hope maintained contact only with her big sister, Joy. Having once considered her mothering to be the greatest achievement of her life, Nora’s spent these Hope-less years searching, aching, mother-guilting, working for a famous yet talentless artist and avoiding her own emotionally repressed mother, Daphne.
But … last night Hope rang out of the blue to say, ‘I’m coming home, I’m getting married, the wedding is in three weeks and it’s your job to organise it.’ Desperate to prove her worth as a mother and regain her daughter’s love, Nora commits to the task – assisted by her own increasingly dementia’d mother and her two best friends, Soula (an amateur bikini-line waxer) and Thilma (whom they found in a cab in the 1980s).
My Daughter’s Wedding is both hilarious and profound as it explores the confounding complexity, wild terrain, mountains, valleys and quicksand found in three generations of mother-daughter love.
Light hearted, spirited, zany and witty, My Daughter’s Wedding is the latest contemporary fiction title from award winning comedy writer Gretel Killen. My Daughter’s Wedding offers an insightful look into the complexities of mother-daughter relationships across three generations.
The principal narrator of My Daughter’s Wedding is fifty-something Nora Fawn. We learn that Nora’s daughter Hope vanished with no explanation nearly five years ago. Refusing any form of communication with her mother, but remaining on good terms with her older sister Joy, Hope has distanced herself from her mother. With her commitment to motherhood, Nora despairs over her lost relationship with her daughter. But Nora also has problems with her own mother. Nora has been unable to connect with her mother on an emotional level. As a result, Nora fills her days with work in an attempt to forget her family issues. However, things take an interesting turn when Hope reconnects with Nora, by announcing that she is planning a shotgun wedding. Nora has just three weeks up to her sleeve to prove to her daughter that she can support Hope in her time of need. With a motley crew of family and friends on hand to assist Nora with the wedding preparations, can Nora win back her daughter’s love?
With an impressive list of books to her name in children’s fiction and women’s contemporary fiction, Gretel Killeen is quite the household name here in Australia. Gretel Killeen’s television engagements on shows such as Big Brother and The Project spring to my mind when her name is mentioned. Until now I haven’t managed to pick up any of her books to read. The inviting cover and intriguing title of this latest release from Killeen appealed to me. I do like a good wedding book so I was eager to get to this one. While I did appreciate some elements of My Daughter’s Wedding, I will say it wasn’t for me.
My Daughter’s Wedding is a contemporary fiction novel, but I would easily classify it as a classic chick lit story. I think this was my first roadblock with Killeen’s novel. In recent years I have struggled to connect to chick lit novels and it seemed like this was completely the case with My Daughter’s Wedding. I did have high hopes that as Killeen’s book is narrated from the perspective of a fifty-year-old woman I would be able to connect to this mature voice. Nora’s story is relayed in a very honest diary format. We are privy to Nora’s innermost, thoughts, feeling and concerns. I appreciated this standpoint. However, Nora’s voice in these diary entries seemed quite immature for a woman of her age and this didn’t sit that well with me.
What Killeen does do well is this novel is comprehensively explore the intricacies of female relationships. We are presented with a complicated and strained mother-daughter relationship in two different forms, across two different generation dynamics. We also view a sister-based relationship, along with a number of other female friendships. Killeen maintains an insightful, thoughtful, considered and unrestrained look at these contrasted relationships. There is an extended cast of characters that fill the pages of My Daughter’s Wedding, who introduce some comedic interludes and often ridiculous situations to the mix. Some may find these areas of the novel utterly hilarious, but for me it fell flat.
My Daughter’s Wedding offers an ear to the ground style perspective of a mother and family unit in turmoil. Gretel Killeen’s latest is a quick read, best enjoyed in a relaxed atmosphere.
My Daughter’s Wedding by Gretel Killeen is published by Hachette Australia on February 23rd 2021. $32.99.
To learn more about the author of My Daughter’s Wedding, Gretel Killeen visit here.
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
My Daughter’s Wedding is book #34 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge