A few months ago, I had dinner with my friend A.D. It was a casual place, one we frequented when A.D. visited the city. We chose to sit in the lounge that night, a poor choice on my part as all the televisions were featuring loud sports games — baseball in particular (A.D.’s a fan of baseball).
After the waitress took our orders, A.D. looked me straight in the eye and I knew it was coming. It was the nervous twinge in her voice, the excited glitter in her eyes, and the way she stumbled, assured and coaxed in her words.
That night, after a year of being engaged, A.D. asked me to be one of her bridesmaids.
I did not accept at once as there were a lot of particulars to go through — distance, time and cost. We’re not children; we were very matter-of-fact about it. We took hours discussing plans, ideas and dreams. By the end of the night, A.D. didn’t know it, but I was fully prepared to accept.
I just didn’t know how to go about it just yet.
As a commemorative move to cherish this moment between A.D. and her fiancé, between A.D. and me, and the friendships between all of us, I decided to reach toward my bookshelf and read Nora Robert’s The Bride Quartet again.
Nora Robert’s Vision in White has to be the best book in The Bride Quartet — the first glimpse into the friendship of Mackensie “Mac” Elliot, Emmaline “Emma” Grant, Laurel McBane and Parker Brown. The four childhood friends — best friends — own a wedding planning business together: Mackenzie the photographer, Emma the florist, Laurel the pastry chef, and Parker the planner. The Bride Quartet is about these four friends in the business of love finding love themselves and, ultimately, their happy ever afters.
In Vision in White, Mackensie is a professional photographer for weddings. Her works are beautiful, with several having been featured in bridal magazines like Today’s Bride. She loves capturing moments, “moments that were happy” (6) because “happy ever after was bull.” (6) With an absent father and a spoiled mother — both divorced and remarried multiple times — Mackenzie has trust issues when involved with significant others. Despite Mackensie’s pessimism on love and happy ever afters, she is met with intelligent, endearing and clumsy Carter Maguire — with a PhD in English Literature.
Carter had taught at Yale, but decided to return to his hometown to teach teenagers in his high school alma mater. He’s cute, learned and awkward. Most of all, he’s had a crush on one Mackensie Elliot since he was 17 years old. After accidentally seeing Mackensie in nothing but a bra and a pair of black pants, Carter falls again.
The conflict of Vision in White centres on Mackensie’s unhealthy relationship with her mother and her distrust in any romantic relationships involving herself. Carter is patient, and eventually Mackensie finds the strength to persevere and find love. It’s a not a hard journey, but it had to be done.
The best aspect of Vision in White and, I would argue, in the whole The Bride Quartet series, is the friendship between the four girls. Their quips, their bond and their understanding of each other’s characters really led the story. Robert had a clear picture of these four girls — how they would interact, what they would say, when they would appear — that it often led the readers confused and astray. Without back story to build up the four’s friendship, I had to pause a little and tell myself that they knew each other’s secrets in order for the dialogue to be realistic — I sometimes didn’t know a character was being sarcastic until a paragraph later. Vision in White felt flimsy at times, but after the second read, it makes sense and feels right.
If you want something light, fun and froth with flowers and butter cream, The Bride Quartet is your series. Nora Robert’s Vision in White are for those who love the nerdy boy getting the girl of his dreams, and how this clumsy, awkward and passionate man gently coaxed this broken woman to trust and love again — happy ever after.