Three Weddings and a Proposal by Sheila O’Flanagan
Delphine’s story is at the heart of this contemporary novel which deals with a woman’s choices. On one level she is a successful woman, an Executive assistant to Conrad Morgan, a multimillionaire businessman. Her relationship with her boss is one of devotion “I never want him to be disappointed. He depends on me to deliver”. He is the head of an investment firm, moving and growing other people’s money and he is remarkably successful. Delphine is first seen buying a bracelet for his young and beautiful girlfriend Bianca, a fabulous thirtieth birthday present with beauty and history. On the other hand, Delphi as she is known to her extensive family, has no permanent boyfriend, or husband, an empty if wonderful house, a career which takes her on amazing trips around the world. She has female friends, but it soon emerges that she cannot find a plus one for her brother’s wedding. This book looks at, through Delphine’s eyes, how women think of their work, their careers and relationships. Her voice is of a woman who wonders if she has it all, indeed, whether she wants everything. Lively, funny and realistic, this is a story of a woman whose family has expectations of marriage as the route to happiness, who has business acumen if not ambition, and has to consider in a relatively short time her options. I really enjoyed it and found it an enthralling read. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this contemporary novel.
The book opens as Delphine is trying to buy a bracelet for some £100,000 while coping with the demands of her brother to let him know the name of her plus one for his wedding. She comes from a large family in Dublin, where it is important to live close to each other in all senses. Delphine’s singleness is a cause for concern for her family, and the nature of her relationship with her demanding boss is perhaps misunderstood. A law graduate, her successful career has been built on arranging life for Conrad, making sure he is at all his meetings well prepared, his business and charitable interests well organised. Although not earning money directly for the company, she eases the way for Conrad to earn fantastic amounts for investors and himself. She likes his wife Martha, the ultimate executive’s wife, making a home for him and the children and entertaining contacts suitably. More recently Conrad has found a much younger girlfriend, and while Delphine has met her and quite enjoys her company, she knows that Conrad’s lifestyle has changed. An unpredicted event means that Delphine must consider everything, her relationships with past boyfriends, her family’s expectations for her. She realises that men’s and women’s attitudes to their careers are so different that it can be difficult to understand where they overlap. She also realises several things about herself, if only how she reacts to pressures that she could have never foreseen.
This book has much to say about women’s lives in a post – pandemic world. It speaks of their fear of missing out compared with their career progress, the pressure from well meaning family and friends to “settle”, and the real need to find their own way. It shows real insight, a powerful view of women’s lives through fiction, a strong voice in the face of discrimination against women in the workplace despite their progress towards equality. It is entertaining and meaningful, a real dose of reality amongst the humour and personal crisis. The writing takes the reader along, cleverly posing and answering questions, and I recommend it as a vividly written novel of a woman’s life and choices.