cover image Girls in White Dresses

Girls in White Dresses

Jennifer Close. Knopf, $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-307-59685-7

Artfully spare prose adds a literary tinge to the chick lit staples%E2%80%94navigating relationships, bridesmaid duties, disappointing first jobs%E2%80%94explored in Close's debut collection. At their weakest, the stories owe too much to their predecessors: "The Showers," in which the recurring characters travel to a suburban bridal shower, is essentially a retelling of a snappier Sex and the City episode, and Isabella's boss in "Blind" has the dark shades of The Devil Wears Prada. The standout moments come in "The Peahens," when Abby reveals her unusual family and her struggle to fit in (she "studied hard, taking notes on the silver link bracelets all the girls wore"), and the sharp "Hope," when Shannon takes a backseat to her boyfriend's na%C3%AFve political passion for "the Candidate" of a presidential campaign. Occasionally funny (as when Isabella refers to her dinner dates as "parallel eating"), but without the risk taking of The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing or the deeply explored emotion of Prep, these stories will resonate with readers in the throes of the quarter-life churn who can see themselves in the cast. (Aug.)