June 05, 2000 12:00 PM

by Kaylie Jones

Beach book of the week

Fireworks go off—literally—when struggling 28-year-old poet Celeste Miller meets wealthy investment banker Alex Laughton at a tony Fourth of July yacht party in New York Harbor. He sends a dozen roses; she moves in; they get engaged. But as the wedding approaches, Celeste develops a galloping case of bridal nerves, often getting drunk when she’s with her fiancé. Then again, Celeste has been getting drunk since she was 15. Clearly she has a few issues.

While this novel has autobiographical elements, Jones doesn’t excavate her own life as she did in her 1990 novel A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries. Celeste’s tale is stylish and funny but also moving, and readers will find themselves rooting for this flawed, endearing heroine as she confronts her alcoholism and tries to make sense of her life. (HarperCollins, $24)

Bottom Line: One heavenly read

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