1 review

London Is the Best City in America
by Laura Dave

Published: 2006-05-18
Hardcover : 256 pages
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London is the Best City in America, is the insightful, wickedly funny story of two siblings who have found themselves at a crossroads. In mapping their struggles over one wild and emotional wedding weekend, Laura Dave gives us a brilliantly subtle and honest look at contemporary ...
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(London is the Best City in America, is the insightful, wickedly funny story of two siblings who have found themselves at a crossroads. In mapping their struggles over one wild and emotional wedding weekend, Laura Dave gives us a brilliantly subtle and honest look at contemporary courtship, family tension, and the angst that we all experience when we have to make difficult choices.

Three years ago, Emmy Everett made the painful decision to call off her engagement and leave New York City behind. Since then she has been hiding out in Rhode Island working at a bait and tackle shop and haphazardly shooting a documentary about fishermen's wives. July 4th weekend has rolled around again and Emmy is mustering up the courage to return home to New York (the site of her own failed romance) to celebrate her brother Josh's wedding.

En route to his bachelor party, Emmy is shocked when her typically resolute brother confesses that he is having serious doubts about getting married – and he may even be in love with another woman.

Emmy is determined to help her brother face up to this decision—the one she fled from herself. With less than twenty-four hours to go before the wedding, she takes Josh on a road trip to find this mystery woman. Along the way, Emmy embraces her own hard-earned lessons about romance, commitment and what happens when we refuse to let go of the past.

London is the Best City in America is a courageous, big-hearted portrait of love, loyalty, and heartbreak. Emmy is lively, wise and, ultimately, very brave as she tries to answer the universal question: how do we take that first step toward making our lives our own? BACKCOVER: “Incredibly deft, utterly satisfying…I love every character. A triumph of a first novel.”
—Melissa Bank, author of The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing and The Wonder Spot

London is the Best City in America is a delicious comedy of manners and a smart examination of the heart and its desires. What a sparkling debut!”
—Susan Isaacs, author of Long Time No See

"With its suspenseful plot, endearing heroine and vivid prose, Laura Dave's London is the Best City in America is an immensely appealing novel. A sparkling debut."
—Margot Livesey, author of Eva Moves the Furniture

Editorial Review

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Discussion Questions

Discussion questions from publisher's reading guide:

1. It seems Emmy did make the right decision in leaving Matt (although arguably she did not handle it in the best way), but why was she unable, after making that decision, to make some other productive decisions and move on with the rest of her life? Why does it take her so long to make the next step?

2. What is the significance of “Independence Day”? What does it mean in both Emmy’s and Josh’s life?

3. Why does Emmy end up interviewing so many fishermen’s wives? What questions is she asking, and what answers is she looking for in her own life through these women?

4. What is it about Berringer that makes him so attractive to Emmy? How might things be different with him than with Matt, or how does Emmy believe they will be different?

5. Do you believe, as Emmy seems to, that we create our own destiny by the choices we make, or do you believe more in fate, that whatever happens happens for a reason? What are the benefits/pitfalls of each view?

6. On page 26, when Emmy probes Josh about Meryl, he tells her not to “stir the pot.” This seems a bit odd since he brings up the subject with Emmy. Do you think he tells Emmy about Meryl because, at least subconsciously, he hopes Emmy will interfere? Matt says to Emmy, “Maybe it’s not your job to help [Josh]” (p. 162). Is it her job to help him? Should we try and help those around us get out of sticky situations? When does helping becoming interfering? How involved should we be in other people’s lives?

7. Emmy says that “wedding weekends . . . encourage people to revisit the past” (p. 34). Do you agree? What are some of your best/worst “wedding weekend” experiences? Have you experienced any wedding debacles?

8. The title of the novel refers back to a childhood decision Emmy makes regarding where the family should go on vacation. What does it say about Emmy that she chose London when the destination was supposed to be one the family could drive to, and how, if at all, does this foreshadow her future choices?

9. Emmy spends a lot of time thinking about how people met—she and Matt, Josh and Meryl, Berringer and Naomi, and her parents. How important is how two people meet, and does it predict at all their future success? What do you think of Josh’s theory that an entire relationship is based on what occurs “over the course of the first five minutes you know each other” (p. 56)?

10. Emmy says that “It wasn’t about which woman Josh ultimately chose—it was about which Josh Josh chose” (p. 107). What does Emmy mean?

11. After Emmy tells Elizabeth about her documentary, Elizabeth shares with Emmy the fortune cookie saying that read, “You can’t finish the things you weren’t supposed to start” (p. 108). What may Elizabeth be implying, both about herself and Emmy?

12. The chance occurrence of a blackout has a decisive effect on the events in the novel. How dependent are our lives on the intrusions of circumstances like blackouts, broken blinkers, etc.? Is this kind of dramatic impetus toward change the stuff of books and movies only? Are there examples from your own life?

13. Meryl suspects something is going on with Josh, and Emmy discovers that Matt was indeed having an affair when she had thought he no longer loved her. Do you think it’s impossible to hide these kinds of things from the people we’re close to? Should we always trust our instincts when it comes to our suspicions? What is the advantage of doing so, and what are the dangers?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Just OK..."by Stefanie A. (see profile) 03/30/08

The book was OK. It was an easy read but somewhat predictable. The discussion questions in the reading guide made for some good discussions. Our book club was split down the middle. Half of us liked... (read more)

  "Girl goes to her sister's wedding with interesting results"by stephanie s. (see profile) 09/03/07

Fun easy read. We read it for a summer book. What do you do if think you are marrying the wrong person?

  "Quick read."by Andrea H. (see profile) 02/28/07

Average response from our book club. Some really liked the book, others did not. I was right in the middle. We got great commentary from the discussion questions.

  "This book takes place over one, incredible weekend. Two siblings (Emmy and her brother Josh) find themselves in desperate need of making important life decisions. In the process, they will make you"by dana j. (see profile) 08/07/06

I am a young mother--with very little time to read--and I absolutely zipped through this book. I could not put it down. Emmy Everett, the book's narrator, is like no other that I've found in contemporary... (read more)

  "What a fun quick read! The entire book club loved it and all felt they could relate in some way!"by Rachel F. (see profile) 07/25/06

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