I was really glad to read another humorous book from Connie Willis. It was just what I was in the mood for, lots of fun, a little bit absurd, with a cute love story. A lot of the feel in this book reminded me of Bellwether, in a good way. It was a lot of fun watching the story unfold and piecing things together as it became clearer what was going on and why.
A lot of her characters in her humorous books tend to be caricatures, which is good when you're in the mood for that, which I was. Almost every character in here is pretty meddlesome, no one really minds their own business and leaves people alone. People have overbearing family members will likely relate a lot to Briddey's struggles with her family.
Now to some of the things that frustrated me. I didn't feel Briddey ever really stood up for herself. It started becoming very annoying to me that she continually invented excuses, and any time a person overcame those excuses, she went along with what they wanted. She did a lot of just letting things happen to her. I really wanted her to just tell someone "no" at least once. Or to answer a personal question with, "None of your business." I never got this. Not once, and the fact that I didn't get it was immensely disappointing. This all made Briddey feel too wishy washy and passive to be particularly likable as a main character. She had her own opinions and wants, but she always let herself get persuaded and bullied into doing what everyone else wanted or thought she should do.
Let's get into more detail, here. This means spoilers. You got that? Spoilers.
Obviously I didn't like Trent. I wanted to see Briddey break up with Trent. I was inwardly begging her to do it, and it never happened. In the end, he broke up with her, and she pretended to be disappointed. A lot of the issues at the end of the book, I thought, could've been avoided by her her telling Trent she didn't want to be with him anymore, and that she wasn't going to do any of the tests he wanted to do. There was mention that her job was in jeopardy if she didn't do what he wanted, but it seemed like it was going to become a rather toxic workplace anyway, so deciding she needed to look for another job would've been a good idea, in my opinion.
The actual love interest in the story, C.B., was pretty easy to spot from the beginning. Trent hardly had any screen time in the first half of the book, always busy, constantly being interrupted, but a lot of time was spent on C.B. I liked him, but he was also guilty of telling Briddey what to do, if for somewhat better reasons that Trent had.
I enjoyed the way Briddey's feelings for C.B. changed and developed as the story progressed. What bothered me was the end. The two of them were finally preparing to talk about their feelings, despite constant annoying interruptions from Maeve that as a reader I did not find funny anymore. Finally, C.B. was the one to kiss Briddey. This was hugely disappointing. It was very important to me to see Briddey show some agency. I really needed her to make that first move. I guess in the end she is still not a strong character with her own agency.
I still enjoyed the book, and think anyone who likes Connie Willis is going to enjoy this.