Lorraine's Reviews > A Wedding In December

A Wedding In December by Anita Shreve
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's review
Dec 11, 2007

it was ok
bookshelves: chick-lit
Recommended for: married women
Read in December, 2007

Often I can't look past a books writing to give credit to a decent story. This time, I can't get past the worldview of the book to clearly see the writing.

(Spoiler Alerts)
I think there are two (linked) messages in this book: the first is that you never know when tragedy will strike so live your life now. This theme is subtley given in the numerous references to 9/11 and the World Trade Centre (even though it was published in 2005, it must have been written shortly after 9/11/2001 because the event is so evidently in the forefront of the characters' consciouses) and the comparative tragedy and devastion of the Halifax Explosion during WWI (which is outlined in a metanarrative). At first I couldn't figure out what the point of the metanarrative about Innes was, but the other seems to be pointing out that Halifax and Nova Scotia healed from that horrible tragedy and New York will recover from its devastion, in time (though the people directly affected will always bear those scars).
The second message is also connected to Innes, but also to just about every couple in the book. I'm unable to capture it in a single, pithy sentence, but concerns true love that got away and extramarital affairs. This is where the worldview distraction comes in.

I can't tell for sure, but I'm left with the feeling the author is saying an affair is okay if it is with your true love, possibly the one who 'got away.' She puts a positive light on Bill, who left his wife when he rediscovered his high school sweetheart 25 years later, and on Harrison, who claims one night with Nora, the girl he admired from afar. Even Innes, who dutifully married blind and disabled Louise, is cheered for meetings with her sister Hazel, his lost true love. At the same time we are shown Agnes, who is the longtime mistress of an older married man. While she painfully feels the loneliness of the months or years between their meetings, she also has the pleasure of passionate living each moment she has with her man, without the doldrums of marriage. Is it worth it? Shreve implies that it is. If one spouse is prone to meaningless affairs, however, Shreve seems to say, that will hurt the marriage (as in Carl & Nora's, Jerry & Julie's). Almost all of the marriages in the book have infidelity, except for the partnership of Rob and Josh, but because they are never given a voice, it seems that their relationship is irrelevant or maybe too perfect to be real.

While Shreve may be perpetuating the romantic dream of that one true love you never got over, she is removing romance and even belief in marriage. For this reason, I can't fully accept this book.

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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Jessica I agree with your comment on extramarrital affairs in this book. It seemed naive to think these characters would actually be happier with someone else when they hadn't been able to make their first marriages work. I didn't buy the whole true-love, sweetheart bit and didn't care for the way most of the characters seemed fine with having an affair.

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