Published by Sarah Crichton Books
Publication date: September 4th 2012
Who doesn’t love a wedding? The friends and family of Gabe and Tess are gathered at her mother’s home for a garden wedding. The only hitch so far? The weather, which has forced the relocation of the festivities into the house. Not a problem for either Gabe or Tess, who are low key, in love and used to last minute changes, having met in Mali while working for Doctors Without Borders. As the guests sit assembled, awaiting the bride, she appears and rapidly walks (or could it be that she is stomping?) down the aisle. As she reaches the front of the room she turns and now the fun begins. Her dress is traditional bridal, a strapless white confection but it is paired with a World War I gas mask over the face and reflective sunglasses over that. There is a heavy, long white veil but it is offset by a belt of ammunition slung low over her waist and an odd black box with a green light on it strapped on her arm. Instead of a bouquet she carries a shotgun. Gabe and Tess are both free-spirits and shy away from anything traditional—is this Tess? Or a performance piece by one of their friends? No, it is the one of those people who does not like weddings and who has chosen to assert her feelings in Lisa Zeidner’s novel, Love Bomb.
In short order, the intruder has barricaded all the doors and announced there is a bomb attached to one, so escape is not an option they should consider. She demands that all cell phones be passed to her and all of the women’s purses. Now that she has their attention, the true purpose of the ‘wedding’ is revealed. Someone in the room has gravely wronged her and must now publicly recount all of their misdeeds and then apologize to her. If and when she deems the apology to be enough, everyone will be released.
Love Bomb is a perfectly calibrated piece of satire. Not only is the incongruous plot one that hooks the reader from the beginning but Zeidner plants her cast with such precision there is bound to be an explosion, whether caused by the hostage taker or just amongst the guests themselves. In particular, there are a large proportion of guests (in the family friends category) who are psychiatrists. Their take on the situation is immediate, even before the woman speaks.
But the father of the bride, the maternal grandfather of the groom, and a handful of the guests were psychiatrists who could call in a script for Thorazine or process a committal right on the spot. They did not think this woman was fetchingly creative. They would think she was schizophrenic. They would think she was schizophrenic just on the basis of the outfit. The outfit alone screamed inpatient.
Zeidner applies the same care to the rest of the guests as the mother-of-the-bride does to arranging tables. In addition to the mental health cadre, she adds a movie star sister and her hunky but none-too-bright date, the bride’s father and his two ex-wives and their children, and the groom’s paternal grandfather, a former military commander. Each has something to say and Zeidner’s prose excels at capturing their self-absorption, fear, jealousy and hysteria. In contrast, there is Tess’ mother, Helen. Even though everything has gone wrong from a wedding perspective (what’s happening to the salmon that was left on the kitchen counter four hours ago?), she is keenly aware of their captor but from a more humane perspective than the rest of the group. She too is in the mental health field but only as a lowly psychologist so her quiet attempts to establish rapport with this unknown person are ignored. Ignored, that is, until the group realizes that Helen is the only person to whom the hostage taker responds.
Events escalate, the SWAT team arrives, and the bomb that is the intruder is defused. Zeidner handles it all with aplomb and a witty, insightful take on human nature and the tradition that is weddings, making Love Bomb funny and smart reading. Cake anyone?