Meg Cabot, perhaps best know for The Princess Diaries, has written a delightful comedic romance. Holly and Mark are getting married, but to avoid the hassle of dealing with their disapproving families, they decide to elope in Italy. With their best friends since childhood, the couple takes off on an exciting trip to a remote Italian village.
While Holly and Mark seem to be a perfect couple, unfortunately the best man and maid of honor can’t get along. Jane is a free-spirited cartoonist who loves pop culture, while Cal is a staid international reporter who hasn’t owned a TV in years. She believes in true love and romance while he thinks that marriage is a biological impossibility. Even worse, he’s never even heard of Wondercat, Jane’s famous creation.
The Italian countryside provides a fabulous place for relaxation and enjoyment, even though communications from home sometimes put everyone in a bad mood. But then some bureaucratic red tape threatens to keep Holly and Mark from getting married. Jane and Cal put aside their differences to help their friends and come to some surprising conclusions about each other.
Jane starts a travel diary, intending it as a wedding gift. After she finds herself writing about cute guys and underwear, she decides that perhaps the journal is best kept for herself. It is through Jane’s eyes that we see most of the story, and she’s an engaging narrator. She exhibits a humorous personality without becoming a ditzy stereotype.
Cabot creates an inventive narrative by piecing together journal entries, e-mails and realia from the trip to tell the story. Two receipts at the beginning of the story tell you more about Jane and Cal than pages of explanation. He buys a single serious news magazine and a package of batteries. She buys chocolates, medicine, earplugs, a celebrity magazine and five bottles of water. Small touches like this take the story a step above similar romantic tales.
Cabot also brings just the right touch of humor to the story. From the “off-camera” mishaps of Jane’s dad alluded to in e-mails from her mom to the overzealous admiration of a young Wondercat fan to Jane’s penchant for shoe problems, it’s easy to be engaged by the story even if you’re not usually a fan of romances.
The ultimate conclusion of the story is obvious from the back cover blurb, let alone the first pages of the book. But you won’t even care because the journey is so much fun.