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Once Upon a Bride    by Jean Stone order for
Once Upon a Bride
by Jean Stone
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2005 (2005)
Paperback, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

When four single best friends meet to plan and discuss a second wedding for one of them, an entrepeneurial idea is born - the concept of a wedding-planner business catering exclusively to marriage the second time round. Jo Lyons, once a high-flying, well-paid Boston publicist and now almost totally broke (both financially and emotionally) finds the idea of moving back to her hometown to start from scratch somewhat humiliating.

But her doubts and depression are swept away by the force of her flighty but lively friend Lily's bubbling enthusiasm and cheerful financing. Together with the fantastic designs provided by Sarah, the artist of the group, and the eager assistance of their gay secretary Andrew, Elaine's second wedding shows all signs of being a smash hit and a shining example of their first venture. However things rarely go as planned. Tough times lie ahead for these four friends, for whom the wedding-planner business is not only a second chance at life but also at love.

Jean Stone's thoughtful new book about older women and second chances is simply irresistible. The wedding planning business concept is quirky and unique, while the well-developed characters add to the charm. The friends represent different women's roles - the homemaker, the butterfly, the artist and the career-oriented. The friendship of these four ladies is laudable while their imperfections make them engagingly human.

Stone's atmospheric and heartfelt narrative makes the ups and downs of her characters' lives and loves come to life in a poignant manner. Whatever your age, I predict that you'll find Once Upon a Bride a joy to read.

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