Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

5 Star

Anne Blythe is a writer who has everything going for her, except luck in love. When she stumbles upon a dating service business card after suffering yet another failed relationship, she tucks away the card on a whim. Several months later when she decides to give it a try, Anne is shocked to discover that the company actually specializes in high end arranged marriages. Once she learns of their high success rate and analyzes her own lack of success, Anne overcomes her fears and finds herself on a plane several months later where she’s to meet and marry Jack, her perfect match. Everything seems to be going according to plan, but can anything ever be guaranteed in a love or arranged marriage?

Lydia - 5 Star

I loved Catherine McKenzie's debut novel, Spin - which made it to my top 5 reads of 2010, and couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of Arranged and I was not disappointed. McKenzie's latest novel explores the premise of a western woman seeking an arranged marriage, one based on friendship rather than love, and I thought the comparisons and insights throughout the novel were interesting and they definitely had me stopping to think at times. Arranged was fast paced, had an intriguing premise and I was drawn immediately into Anne’s world. Catherine McKenzie definitely has another winner on her hands!

I loved the Anne of Green Gables thread throughout. Having been a huge fan of the books and movies since I was a child, I giggled frequently and loved how Anne kept tying her romantic nature back to the story as well as the fun she poked at herself for being named after such an infamous character. 

Anne’s character grabbed me right from the beginning of the novel. Even though she’s down on her luck in love, she realizes it and tries to pick herself up and move forward. She never seems to sit and bemoan her situation for long and realizes when she’s in a rut. She’s thoughtful, insightful and able to analyze her situation to try and figure a possible way out, even though her solution might seem a crazy idea to some, even to herself.

Although I wasn’t 100% sure of Jack, due to the nature of the arranged part of the marriage I think (not for me apparently), I liked him well enough, but part of me still wanted to be cautious. And for Anne to be cautious – that’s how much I cared about her character. I didn’t want to see her get hurt again. All the other characters were well drawn and likeable and I loved Anne’s relationships with them all. Their reactions at her sudden marriage seemed realistic and provided quite a few giggles as well as had me wondering what my friends and family would do in such a situation and what I would do if a friend of mine got hitched so suddenly.

Even though the premise might seem a little far fetched - or at least it did to me – McKenzie makes it seem plausible and not once did I think any part of the story was outrageous. 

Can’t wait to see what else Catherine McKenzie has in store for us next!

Kathryn - 5 Star

Loved, loved, loved the original plot of Arranged and was thrilled to find that this continued throughout the entire novel. 
The most interesting thing for me wasn’t just the originality of the plot but what I felt were some really original character traits of the leading character, Anne Blythe. Anne is faced with a failed relationship at the start of the novel but she didn’t strike me as someone who would linger much over her decision to move on when things weren’t working out.  Of course she’s unhappy that she’s read the situation so incorrectly but I admired her perseverance to move out & move on so quickly.  She also sticks to her belief that trying an arranged marriage is worth the huge fees and although her choice is unorthodox I thought she went into it with as much optimism as possible. She was refreshing and even though I occasionally found her a tiny bit dry I think this part of her character is realistic given her past and her unease at putting her life in the company’s hands.
Anne’s family and friends are fantastic, vibrant characters and I loved each of them - they were undeniably real for me, particularly her brother’s family. Without these people supporting her though I’m not sure we would have been able to sympathise with some of Anne’s decisions about her man Jack.  I didn’t particularly like Jack throughout most of the novel- he was a bit sneaky and suspicious for me right from the beginning so it was important for me to like her family and friends and trust their judgement.
This read is a great treat!
Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for our review copy and a giveaway copy. ,All opinions are our own.

Connect with Catherine McKenzie here:


  1. I cannot WAIT to read this one! You're review only fueled that! I recently reviewed "Skipping a Beat" and I saw your post on twitter. Feel free to read my review and see what I thought ( :

  2. Hello! Great review of Arranged. I'm really intrigued, and will try to find it out here.
    Visiting you from e-Volving Books

  3. I LOVED this one too! I really enjoyed Spin as well and couldn't wait to get my hands on Arranged. I'm really looking forward to her new one (apparently coming out in May!) I also loved the Anne of Green Gables thread throughout the novel. An all around fantastic read.



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