The Marriage Gift

Stephen Evans

Publisher: Time Being Media Pages: 156 Price: (paperback) $12.99 ISBN: 9781953725400 Reviewed: April, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

Stephen Evans’ novella, written in the style of a play, follows Paula and James as they search for the perfect wedding gift.

The couple receives a wedding invitation from a mysterious “Cousin Angela,” to whom neither of them recalls being related. After some argument, they decide to attend the event anyway. Then comes the debate over who will buy the wedding gift – or rather a “Marriage Gift,” which will “prepare them for the journey they are making together.”

James accepts the task and sets off for the Mall of America with his brother, Frank. Certain James will mess up, Paula also heads for the mall with her co-worker, Iris.

Encounters with an unhelpful coffee vendor, a printer in the Bridal Registry department that’s running amok and won’t stop printing, and a sexy lingerie set lead to a climax in the mall fountain reminiscent of Robert Altman’s film Dr. T and the Women and, finally, the revelation of Angela’s identity.

The Marriage Gift offers several amusing set-pieces, including James’ eventually successful attempts to get some coffee (or rather, cappuccino), and lines such as, “My marriage is the best thing that ever happened to me… [but] it keeps happening.”

However, what might have been a delightful short story feels overstretched in the book’s nearly 150 pages. Although the protagonists get exasperated with each other, there’s no real tension-producing conflict between them, and despite some bumbling, neither of them faces major obstacles on their fairly low-stakes quest. A romance subplot between Frank and Iris might have potential if better-developed, but it feels like an afterthought as-is.

Despite its affable protagonists and witty moments, The Marriage Gift needs to be either tightened or expanded before it’s likely to appeal to a commercial audience.

Author's Current Residence
Silver Springs, Maryland
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