Charlynn's Reviews > A Wedding in December

A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve
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's review
Aug 25, 2012

really liked it
Read in August, 2012 — I own a copy

It's amazing to contemplate how little actually happens in Shreve's A Wedding in December, yet, at the same time, that which does is so very monumental – changing nothing but impacting everything, though there is a sense that readers just get to experience a moment of what has been building for decades and will continue to build for years. Perhaps this is because of the issue of time and how the author approaches it. Three days – no, actually, it's more like two days and the fleeting morning of a third – pass the characters by in this novel, but through recollections and shared conversations, readers come to feel as if they have known these people, these former friends now reunited at an inn for a wedding, for forever – the turbulent dramas of their lives – infidelity, loneliness, cancer, an unhappy marriage, impending blindness, a life unfulfilled – more guests than the individuals who own the tragedies. Plus, woven into the folds of the book is a story within a story – one of the former friends supplementing her own unhappiness with the decisions of another. The result is a delicious, intense character study which allows readers to feel as though they have been a part of this group since high school – their recent introduction to the various players reminiscent of the gap in time which separated the friends, sometimes rivals, but always connected individuals between their high school graduation and the wedding which reunited them all.

A Wedding in December isn't perfect. There were a couple of continuance issues – for example, while one character noted another's French twist, another referred to the hairstyle as a bun, and parts of the narrative were missing – opinions, insights, secrets left unshared by players whom the author did not give a voice. Yet, these faults will fade in the mind of readers, blending into the background as, years after first finishing the novel, they will remember its rich insight into the human mind and heart rather than a bumbled description or a curiosity as to what Jerry, or Bill, or Rob, or Nora might have been thinking. However, the ending – in its beauty and its maddening abruptness – will be recalled as well, for Shreve's leaves off her book with an unanswered question; will he, or won't he? As a writer, I relish in the ambiguity, savoring its potential for what's to come after the last page is turned, but, as a reader, I loath the unknown – needing, wanting closure but also knowing that such a gift will never be given to me, my opportunity to be a voyeur into these characters' lives now snatched away. Nevertheless... or perhaps because of its ending, A Wedding in December is a work that will not only make you feel but also think, a study of life perpetually in the gray. It is also a joy to read.
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