HERE COMES THE BRIDE: Women, Weddings, and the Marriage Mystique

Jaclyn Geller, Author . Four Walls Eight Windows $15 (232p) ISBN 978-1-56858-193-4

Tempt a woman with a truckload of wedding gifts and social approbation, says Geller, and she's more than happy to forget that matrimony is the last institution she should want to join, given its patriarchal history. A single woman in her 30s working on her Ph.D. in English at New York University, Geller examines modern marriage in a lively, accessible book that's one part academic analysis and three parts rant. Fleeing a stultifying upper-class suburb, she found college so stimulating that she refused to swap cerebral pursuits for a conventional married life. As friend after friend rushed down the aisle, however, she began to examine why marriage is so revered that it automatically trumps a close, platonic friendship; the excitement of multiple sexual relationships; or a solitary, contemplative existence. Determined to find the answer, Geller pores over husband-hunting manuals and wedding guidebooks, and even poses as a bride at Bloomingdale's bridal registry, where the crystal pitchers, silver fondue dishes and Limoges soup tureens, she confesses, have tremendous allure. Women opt for house and husband, she suggests, because they've been subjected to a centuries-long, pro-marriage marketing campaign. Other lifestyles generate no comparable media blitz—"no images of a woman burrowing at home with a book and a glass of wine, or sitting up with a friend talking." While Geller's argument is refreshing and timely in an age of wedding hype, some readers may wish that she spent more time exploring the pleasures and benefits of uncommon lifestyles and less telling readers why marriage is to be avoided at all costs. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/28/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!