Anna Cleary: Wedding Night with a Stranger

ISBN: 978 1 742 55407 5 (June 2010) 


The title intrigued me. Australian author and  it had been a while since had read a ‘wedlocked’ storyline so we splurged.   If we had borrowed this book from the library (highly unlikely considering they have outsourced their collection management to American firm Baker & Taylor) we would not have progressed much beyond the first chapter.  We persisted hoping it would fall in the so bad its good category. Alas not.

The basic storyline (and we mean basic) to secure a lucrative contract Sebastian Nikosto must marry Ariadne Giorgas.   Ariadne (another in a long line of financially illiterate heroines which is rather tiresome) agrees to this marriage as she has severe cash flow issues. A good wedlock story is more psychologically driven as the only impediment to the characters’ union is themselves rather than been reactive to events beyond their control.  The impediment here is Sebastian’s dead wife Esther who is such a perfunctory device she is redundant.    And of course our heroine is an orphan.  Channelling Careful He Might Hear You and Transit of Venus her parents were killed in a boating accident on the harbour.

We found it odd that a Queenslander felt the need to set in Sydney. Did Tourism NSW outbid Tourism Queensland?  The number of times Park Hyatt Sydney  was mentioned made me wonder if the Hyatt paid for such product placement.  The other placement that drew a wry smile (presumably missed by the editors as it was not italicised) was The Coffee Club (p84).  Small little chain that one (not!)

There is a rawness to Cleary’s work that is absent with the more established authors. Indeed there was surprise to learn that this is her fifth book.  It is evident that Cleary has studied many MBs as the key phrases are there but this book is so repetitive you can skip every second or third page and not miss anything. e.g. Clearly described the Sydney Opera House thus ‘The pale shells of the Opera House floated in luminous majesty (p.44) so enamoured was she with this description that sixteen pages later we are offered, ‘As she gazed across at the opera house, its luminous pale shells rendered magical by moonlight (p.61). Okay we get what the Sydney Opera House looks like.

This book is probably not for domestic consumption.  There was no cultural identification with Australia and it would seem that anglicised Greeks is a more palpable background for an international audience  than an undiluted Australian one.

Most irritating aspects of the storyline:

  • Sebastian needed to go back to his office to write an email (indicated by the change of font).Why? In the age of BlackBerries and iphones I don’t think so.
  • The need to fax the marriage certificate to Greece?  Ever heard of email?
  • The need for a marriage license? According to the AG website only a Notice of Intent needs to be lodged with the celebrant at least one month before the ceremony. The time can be shorten if one of five categories are met:
      • Employment related or other travel commitments,
      • Wedding or celebration arrangements, or religious considerations,
      • Medical reasons,
      • Legal proceedings,
      • Error in giving notice.

                 We are suppose to believe it was arranged in a couple of hours? 

          • Sebastian’s company Celestial is supposed to be an ASX listed company.  Think there might be some serious disclosure breaches with his little transaction.

          Overall, its an okay skim read.

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