Review: “The New Yorker” May 21, 2012 Fiction

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“The Proxy Marriage” by Maile Meloy

An accessible read about the ups and downs of unrequited love, seen through the eyes of pianist William. Spanning several years, the story centers around William’s secret love for high school friend Bridey, an aspiring actress blind to her friend’s affections. William remains tight-lipped about his affection for all the typical reasons we mask or withhold from expressing true feelings of love (timidity, fear of the unknown/unpredicted response, etc.). William’s angst is further compounded when Bridey’s lawyer father asks William and Bridey to stand in as proxies in wedding ceremonies for soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq and their fiancees back in America (proxy marriages, we learn, are permitted by Montana law). What results is a proxy relationship of sorts for William. Though not binding them legally, the numerous “I do’s” Bridey and William share through the years hold significance for William. He feels a significant, almost husbandly, sense of betrayal when Bridey marries another man. But all is not lost, as Bridey conveniently (story-wise) gets a divorce, paving the way for a final opportunity for William to affirm his love for her. Overall, a lighthearted read. I’m not particularly averse to love stories or happy endings, so the story read fine to me (though one does wish the ending had more to it).

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