Book Review: Mergers and Acquisitions by Cate Doty

About the Book:

A delightfully warm, witty, and poignant memoir about falling in love, and an eye-opening behind-the scenes tour of the rarefied world of The New York Times weddings pages – from the good and the bad to the just plain weird.

Growing up in America’s romantic south, where tradition reigns supreme, Cate Doty thought about weddings a lot. So, when she moves to New York City in pursuit of love, and to write for The New York Times, she finds her natural home in the pages of the wedding section, one of the Big Apple’s most esteemed, talked-about – and competitive – institutions.

Soon Cate is thrown into the cut-throat world of the New York marriage market, experiencing the lengths society couples go to have their announcements accepted and the lengths the writers go in fact-checking their stories; the eye-opening, status-signalling details that matter most to brides and grooms; and the politics of the paper at a time of vast cultural and industry changes.

Cate is surrounded by love, or what we’re told to believe is love. But when she falls head over heels herself, she begins to ask her own questions about what it means to truly commit . . .

Equal parts charming, addictive and funny, this is a delightful meditation on love, privilege and the human condition, and a young reporter’s own romantic coming of age.

Published by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Released 5th January 2022

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book so much. Many of you know that I’m not really a fan of memoirs, however in recent years, I’ve been able to establish that it’s more the type of memoir, rather than the form itself. In short, I hate misery memoirs, particularly the ones that detail the many ways in which the author’s parents ruined their lives. I far prefer the more topic driven ones, such as this, where the memoir is woven into another sort of story, with some social and political history thrown in, whilst still maintaining a light and entertaining read. When an actual writer also writes that memoir, then I’m all for it. Mergers and Acquisitions is exactly this sort of book. Entertaining, well written, interesting, reflective, and above all (possibly most importantly) very funny.

I would never for the life of me have thought that so much research and fact checking went into writing up a wedding announcement. I have a journalism degree, so the ins and outs of the industry are not foreign to me, but even so, for a few lines announcing a wedding, there was a heck of a lot involved! I thoroughly enjoyed this peek into the inner hub of The New York Times and following Cate’s career progression. Her own story of love and weddings was skilfully interwoven into the narrative about the wedding pages whilst also reflecting upon weddings within American society and what they symbolise as a construct separate from the marriage that is to come once the wedding is done.

Stand out moments from the book for me include the first ‘unofficial’ date with her own husband – very funny – and I was deeply moved by the telling of her maternal grandparents’ love story under the shadow of her grandmother’s demise and passing to dementia. You don’t have to be famous or damaged to write a memoir, but you do have to be a good writer and have something interesting to say – Cate Doty checks both these boxes!

Highly recommended for those seeking an entertaining read on a fresh topic.

4/5

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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