I read Madly, Deeply for Katie's Countdown Wedding Read-along event, and even though all this time has passed, it's just my first book! It's taking me forever to put aside some time for reading! Everything's been so crazy busy around here, so we appreciate you keeping up with us, and I finally have something to show for it!
I am really glad I finished this book. About halfway through, I was sure that I was going to give it a terrible review, but now that I've finished it, I can't help thinking that it was actually pretty good.
There were a lot of things that annoyed me at the beginning. First of all, the love between William and Annaleigh just felt wrong. I knew that they were supposed to be in love, but I just didn't see it. Annaleigh was too strong a character to fall for someone like Will, who, to me, seemed very wishy-washy and pansyish. The love seemed even more unreal when everyone around them started talking about it. Even Annaleigh's parents agreed that William loved Annaleigh more than anybody in the universe ever loved anybody else, and it all seemed very played out, like the author was trying to convince us rather than developing dynamic characters.
I also didn't like Mary at all in the beginning. I could tell she was supposed to be a likable character, but she was just so obsessive and over the top. She drove me nuts when the wedding planning began; she was completely overbearing and acted as though it were her wedding and she had a right to make all of the decisions. However, there was a reason for this behavior and everything was explained, so when I discovered Mary's side of the story, she became completely likable for me, and actually turned out to be my favorite character. That aside, though, once you find out why she was so overbearing, it seems completely unreal that she would allow the wedding to take place where it did with hardly more begging than ""please.""
Annaleigh was also a strange character. She seemed to have two different sides: the side portrayed by the narrator, and the side that came out in all of her dialogue. As the story followed her, Annaleigh felt fears and sorrows that were realistic to her, only to be ruined every time she opened her mouth. In this way, I feel like I never really understood what Annaleigh was like as a person, because the story never delved deeper into that stubborn, joking side of her that was the complete opposite of the fragile, quiet woman I came to know through the narrator. That being said, as the story moved on and Annaleigh talked less, the love between Annaleigh and William became more believable through her more delicate side.
On a small note, and it's hardly fair to review the book based on this, when the main plot point happened, I felt like the book should have ended there. Obviously, it would be no good if it had, but- without spoiling anything- when it did, I just felt like ""oh, well that's the end of that, then,"" and it didn't feel like much of a story could be made from there. I was wrong, but I spent a great deal of the book feeling that way.
However, despite all of my qualms with this book, the ending completely made up for it. I spent the last 30% of this book with tears in my eyes. Literally. I could not stop crying, and finally I was able to believe the love between William and Annaleigh and feel the loss they felt. I honestly believe the author must have gone through what Annaleigh and William went through at one point - obviously just the possible parts, of course- because the emotions were portrayed so well and she brought up so many good points and thoughts and feelings that I think it couldn't have been possible without a personal experience. My eyes were watering the entire time, especially at the very end, and regardless of the sad points in this book, I finished it with a good feeling that made the whole thing worth reading.