Michelle's Reviews > Seating Arrangements

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
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's review
Jul 22, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: 2012, contemporary-fiction, family-drama
Read from July 18 to 22, 2012

3.5 stars. Big WASPs, little problems. That pretty much sums up this book. Friends and family descend on ancestral beach/island home for the (shotgun) wedding of the oldest daughter then proceed to obsess incessantly about shit that doesn’t matter. Livia is probably the only one with an actual problem but she, of course, focuses on the inane (I have no doubt this was done on purpose). The main protagonist (in my view anyway) is Winn, father of the bride, but we do get a peek into others’ minds/viewpoints. Winn is a completely irritating character but also somehow relatable. I guess you could say he is one hundred percent believable and authentic. No character in this is all that interesting, save the aunt/sister in law and maybe a bridesmaid or groomsman or two. This does not sound like a ringing endorsement of the book but I actually quite enjoyed it. The writing is sharp and at times funny. A couple of passages I liked:

“But now, instead, there was this girl-child who would grow breasts and take another man’s name and sprout new branches on an unknown family tree and do all sorts of traitorous things a son would not do.”

Also I loved this: “And Daphne respected other people’s privacy, even her sister’s, a quality sometimes mistaken for general lack of curiosity.” (I can totally relate).

If you like contemporary fiction set on a New England beach and featuring people with embroidered whales on their khakis this is the book for you. Even if it’s not, there is much to admire here if you go in knowing this is not full of great people doing great things. It’s all very ordinary (in an upper middle class WASP sort of way). Still, the writing is pretty much perfect and I enjoyed hanging out with these characters, maybe because I feel I already know them.
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06/16/2016 marked as: read

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Robin Another one on my list!

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