Five women with diverse roles in a wedding converge on the idyllic Lakeside Inn and confront their issues. Elizabeth, the bride's aunt, wonders why her 25-year marriage teeters on the brink of divorce. Suzette, the wife of the groom's boss, notices her husband's philandering and wonders whether the social standing her marriage brings is worth her pain.

Ingrid, the best friend of the bride, can't decide if her cold feet with her fiance are due to maid-of-honor burnout or legitimate concerns. Widowed grandmother of the bride Margaret is ready to let go of life and graduate to heaven and doesn't want necessary heart surgery. Laura, the sister-in-law of the groom, feels like the dowdy cousin amid the glamorous people, especially her born-to-wealth husband.

Carlson deftly plays point and counterpoint among these intriguing women of contrasting backgrounds and desires. Personalities carry the story with much under the surface. (Feb., 352 pp., $12.99)
Reviewed by: 
Jill Elizabeth Nelson