REVIEW: Something New – Lucy Knisley

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Author: Lucy Knisley (twitter / instagram / website)

UK Publisher: First Second

Genre: Non-fiction, autobiography, comics

When I got engaged in 2012, I… didn’t take it gracefully. I panicked, and couldn’t explain quite why. I tried googling it, and the internet was less than helpful. Apparently engagement anxiety either meant that I was having doubts about our relationship (which at that stage had been going 6 years); or it could be solved by having a giant party.

The industry wasn’t much better – trying to find something that wasn’t telling me I needed to buy more, or lose weight, or throw another party. So many parties. And at least one lifesize Oompa-Loompa made out of jellybeans.

So when Something New was announced, I was very excited.

I have followed Knisley’s work for years, reading her webcomic and following her story. It’s a strange thing to become so invested in the life of someone you have never met. Her engagement announcement made me think she would be the perfect person to address the bizarre quirks of the whole circus of weddings.

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I was right.

The book is a physically beautiful edition. It’s full colour, and the paper is perfect to bring out all the drawings, and means that Knisley can include photographs from her memories and her own wedding adventures. The effect is part journal-comic, part scrapbook. It feels so personal and warm. It is so in-depth as well – she doesn’t shy away from the details, at nearly 300 pages long it is a chunky book. The cover is a gorgeous matt effect, with FLAPS, and the whole thing is finished by a touching piece written by Knisley’s husband, reflecting on the journey from his point of view.

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Something New covers the standard elements of the wedding – parties, coordination, wrangling family – but Knisley also spends time reflecting on her relationship and how she got to this point; and on her own anxieties about the idea of marriage and weddings. She discusses gender politics, LGBT identity, uncomfortable traditions… She also talks about how she addressed them, how she made her peace with the issues she had, and her hopes and wishes.

There are tips for wedding crafts, personal recipes, and stories from friends, family and vendors sprinkled throughout this wonderful book. When I finally got my hands on a copy, about two years after my wedding, I still found myself getting a little emotional at certain points.

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It’s a must-have book for anyone who isn’t quite the excited bride they are expected to be, and will ring true with anyone who has ever felt uncomfortable doing something just because of ‘tradition’.

Briefly:

  • Gorgeous art, full colour, printed in wonderful definition in a beautiful edition.
  • Personal, warm and hopeful, even as it covers the anxieties associated not just with planning a wedding, but with adjusting mentally and emotionally to the expectations and societal weights that come with an engagement.
  • Knisley’s tone is so conversational, and her topic is personal, but everything is impeccably researched. The attention to detail is so clear in all her work, from researching her own personal history to providing recipes she mentions, citing studies or surveying people she knows. She never provides a statement without clear consideration being placed into how she can support it.
  • It is such a relief to find a slightly different wedding narrative, one that doesn’t just have a woman desperate to get to the altar. One which questions the need for marriage, and assesses the reasons behind it thoughtfully and carefully.

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Rating: 5/5 – this was exactly the book I wanted and needed when I was planning my wedding, and the edition is gorgeous.

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