On the morning of her wedding, 24-year-old Beth Shaw drives down the peninsula to the Portsea Hotel. She is uneasy and confused because she has just learnt something devastating about her fiancé, Jordan, that completely changes her view of him.
As Beth's old schoolmates and her relatives arrive for the big day at the bayside idyll, Beth contemplates her childhood in suburbia. She worshipped the school relay runners, one of whom was Jordan's high school sweetheart. Painful memories of earlier disloyalties and betrayals resurface. Her dreams and wedding threaten to spin out of control. Will the truth ever be known? And must she make a fateful decision about more than just her wedding arrangements?
Award-winning author Sallie Muirden deftly evokes the contradictions of human behaviour, and growing up in the 70s and 80s. With its Austenesque feel, Wedding Puzzle is an astute, entertaining, and often tense comedy of manners, that considers our choice of partner and the decision to marry as the key moment in our lives.
Sallie Muirden is a poet and a novelist. Her first novel, Revelations of a Spanish Infanta, won the 1996 HarperCollins Fiction Prize. Her second novel, We Too Shall Be Mothers, was published in 2001. Her collection of poetry, The Fable of Arachne, was published in 2009. Her third novel, A Woman of Seville, was published in 2009. Sallie was born in Melbourne and has lived there most of her life.
Author: Sallie Muirden
Question: How did you come up with the idea of the Wedding Puzzle?
Sallie Muirden: I heard about someone who changed their mind on the day of their wedding and pulled out. Even though such a change of heart would not be common, lots of people get nervous and some have doubts about whether or not they are making the right choice. This is the case for my bride Beth who learns something about her fiancé on the eve of the wedding that changes how she feels.
Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know?
Sallie Muirden: Not really but I identify with my character Beth's indecisiveness and her romantic nature. My upbringing was different to hers and I had a very happy wedding day. Jordan, her fiancé, is like someone I was keen on when I was twenty years old who was charming and kind and flirtatious while at the same time having a steady girlfriend that made him unavailable to the girls he was so affectionate with.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Sallie Muirden: It grows out of real life and real people, but it is my subjective interpretation of life and people. I'm not an autobiographical writer. Try and find my characters in real life and you won't be able to. They don't exist except in my imagination and in my readers' imaginations.
Question: Did the story evolve whilst you wrote or was it very planned?
Sallie Muirden: It evolved as I wrote it and it kept evolving for years and became a story not just about 1988 when Beth's wedding occurs but harkening back to my character's high school years when she first encountered her fiancé Jordan. I hadn't planned for so much backstory to underpin the main story. They detail how Beth and Jordan came to be the adults they are. The flashbacks explain how the pair could walk blindly into a disastrous wedding day.
Question: What's next, for you?
Sallie Muirden: I am exploring my teenage years as a starting point for a new novel, but I also have a few chapters written about a young woman with a chronic illness who finds herself in a wellness centre.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Author: Sallie Muirden