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Cassandra at the Wedding

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  2,202 ratings  ·  275 reviews
Cassandra Edwards is driving home to her family's Californian ranch to attend the wedding of her beloved identical twin, Judith. A graduate student at Berkeley, Cassandra is gay, brilliant, nerve-racked, miserable - and hell-bent on making sure her sister's wedding doesn't happen.

Armed with a clutch bag full of pills and an unquenchable thirst for brandy, Cassandra arrives
Paperback, 264 pages
Published July 19th 2018 by Daunt Books (first published 1962)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  2,202 ratings  ·  275 reviews

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Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: little drummer boy versus thunderclap
Recommended to Mariel by: Carson McCullers
"You've always needed a lot more of everything than I do," she said. "Haven't you?"
I wanted to tell her that I didn't need much. Just a few essentials- faith in something and a little sense of location, but I didn't. I didn't because I was looking at her and seeing, again, the very face I'd seen behind the bottles in the bar this afternoon, the one that can always give me a turn when I really look at it and know who it is and why it looks back at me the way it does- as if it belonged to me.

Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, fiction, nyrb
She wastes herself, she drifts; all she wants to do with her life is lose it somewhere.

The title of this novel sounds peppy and chick-flick-y. Thankfully, it was a self-deprecating, slow moving madness. A fog. A bundle of nerves.

The story switched gears halfway and became serious very quickly. And it's wonderfully dark and frantic.

I wanted to stop and explain it to granny, tell her it was my fault for not knowing what I should have known - that people like us can't really be people and live
Cassandra's twin sister is getting married and Cassandra is grieving this schism. Who gets the Bösendorfer? What do twins wear at one twin's wedding? For once, in literature, a harmlessly drunk father.

They were like this:

"Do you remember, Papa?" I said, "when you read to us out of The Anatomy of Melancholy --'Be not idle, be not solitary'?"
"It's the other way around, I believe," papa said. "'Be not solitary, be not idle.' What about it?"
"Nothing, except I remembered it. It's why I left Berkeley
The things that get in your way; the indignities you have to suffer before you’re free to do one simple, personal, necessary thing--like work.
But I will release Cassandra's self pity that I have come to imagine as my own. As I watch the winds as carrying away my contrived notion of reality, watching the light do great many things to it until, it is out of sight and perhaps I will be bold enough to make the distinction.

It has become increasingly hard for me to put the jibber jabber of thoughts
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first thing one learns in life is that the self is a partial thing; at the very moment of birth one is consigned to terminal separateness. The one attribute we can be sure that we all share is incompleteness.

Reading this in Deborah Eisenberg’s afterword sent volts through me. My sister and I just had this conversation, over the dregs of our breakfast coffee at 2pm: conceptions of self are so fluid, so contingent on other people, so impossible to articulate. And I don’t know that we’re
Mar 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nicholson Baker
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: library shelf
Shelves: fiction, nyrb
Dorothy Baker was apparently a straight woman who liked to write lesbian fiction. The lesbianism of the main character and narrator, Cassandra, is subtly treated. She sits down with her identical twin sister Judith and tells her "as honestly as I could how I'm constituted. With men I feel like a bird in the clutch of a cat, terrified, caught in a nightmare of confinement, wanting nothing but to get free and take a shower." She's also more than a little emotionally disturbed, sees an analyst, and ...more
Alice-Elizabeth (marriedtobooks)
Read on Scribd!

T/W- Suicide attempt

Cassandra at the Wedding was such a strange and sadly, dull story about a woman travelling back to her past family roots in a bid to stop her twin sister from getting married. The writing style was long, story pacing incredibly slow and I just couldn't relate to any of the characters or events that took place. There is a trigger warning that I've listed above. This story was originally published in 1962 and I totally respect the author. This just simply wasn't
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyrb, 2015
Twins, for the most part, have close bonds. A bond that many of us cannot relate to. They sometimes have their own way of communicating, their own way of relating to others and trying to find themselves apart from their womb companion. When one tries to leave -- that bond, that strong, substantial, never-broken bond -- erodes away; leaving one vulnerable to the world of strangers that are not like themselves.

Judith and Cassandra were born into a life of luxury and of old money. Both are
This is the story of Cassandra, a good deal more dextrous than sinister, according to herself, though for a while, it might have seemed the opposite.
…but what can you do...when you’ve just finished failing to cease? Nothing except what I did, which was to stop looking through the eyelashes and bring down the lids. And wait. And sink again, and at once feel myself borne up by many arms and many hands, tossed from one to another, manipulated like an adagio dancer, pulled this way, pushed that way;
Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a deep fondness for sad-stuff-presented-cheerfully. The example I always think of is that song “But Not for Me,” specifically one of the versions by Judy Garland. The song is really about anguish, I think, but she sings it in a lovely, fairly understated way that sort of lets you off the hook somehow – like you have a choice between listening to it remotely and staying emotionally calm, or really focusing on it and getting kind of verklempt and suicidal. Most especially, I love the funny ...more
A beautifully written story of twin sisters, one of whom is getting married and the other is struggling to accept this new level of separation.

Cassandra and Judith Edwards are twins who have been raised in a seemingly idyllic life. Their mother was an established writer (thereby apparently leading to a writer's block in Cassandra who feels unable to live up to her mother's reputation and unwilling to compete with her mother) and retired professor of philosophy father. The affluent family owns a
Anna Luce
3 stars

In spite of its intriguing premise Cassandra at the Wedding is a novel that is obscured by an impenetrable and confounding narration.
The story is divided in three sections, two of which are from the point of view of Cassandra. Her narrative reflects her state of mind and she reports things with a puzzling intense yet unfocused perspective. Her mind jumps from thought to thought, and she often provides no context—or reason—for what she thinks or observes which leaves readers trying to
I identified strongly with Cassandra for several personal reasons, which I won't detail. This probably helped me maintain sympathy for her despite her often inconsiderate thoughtless behaviour (one of the reasons is that I also tend towards these unattractive traits) and vitriol:
There again, I thought, say it twice and underline it. The emblem of good women is always this anxiety about drinking – other people's drinking. And I knew why. Because alcohol releases truth and truth is something good
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
1. Cassandra Speaks
2. Judith Speaks
3. Cassandra Speaks
4. Afterword by Deborah Eisenberg

“Cassandra” is one of the identical twins, on the surface the "stronger" of the two, the other is Judith, who's wedding to Jack is central to the story. Physically identical they may be but that's as far as it goes: the sisters are quite different, their sexual preferences to begin with. Much of the 'action' is set on the family's ranch in the foothills of the Sierras. As a character, Cassandra is
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: orgasmic
Such a brilliant novel! Effortless and smart, does that mix of dark and blase so well, with that kinda preppy but cynical bohemianism of Salinger. Loved it.
Sian Lile-Pastore
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fiction
I really liked this... published in 1962 with a great sense of place and a wonderful narrative voice, 'cassandra at the wedding' is charming, smart, sad and funny. Perhaps more witty and smart than funny, it's not laugh out loud funny, here's a quote so you can see what I mean:

'"I think I'll tell you something I wasn't ever going to tell you," she said, and I knew by her face it was important. Also by how long it took her to follow it up. But she did finally.

"It's about Jack," she said. "He
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-americans
I have to confess that the reasons that lead me to read this book were kind of personal. I have a tendency to become infatuated with certain publishers, and I have a big crush on NYRB. All the books I have read have been incredible discoveries, and I love their translation, even their introductions and afterwords in the novels they publish.

The second reason is because I am a twin, and I am always looking for a good twin story, which don't really come by much. So I read it for very different
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"It would be difficult for a great many pharmacists to write: ‘as needed for zest’, or ‘as needed for zeal’, or ‘as needed to encourage the minimum of tolerance for the brute stupidities of this world’. It would also go against the grain to write simply ‘Pep pills’. Apothecaries have their own sensitivities and some of them cannot go beyond a gentle ‘as needed’. The big question here was what’s needed most: tranquillity, sleep, or zeal, and I didn’t feel like deciding in any great hurry.

Aug 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cassandra at the Wedding (first published in 1962) will make my end-of-year highlights, no doubt about it. As this novel opens, Cassandra Edwards, a graduate student at Berkeley, is preparing to drive home to her family’s ranch for the wedding of her identical twin sister, Judith. From the opening pages, she seems in two minds as to whether to take the trip, and as she looks at the Golden Gate Bridge, we begin to sense that something is desperately wrong:

Besides, my guide assures me that I am
Tightly written with a very well-drawn protagonist, Cassandra at the Wedding is worth reading even if it is a bit dated in some (not all) of its psychological themes. I almost didn't read it for suspicion of any writer who would name her protagonist "Cassandra," but you get over it.

The premise is that Cassandra, one half of identical twins, is preparing to attend - and hoping to thwart - the sudden wedding of her sister Judith. Cassandra is gay (although references to this are oblique, probably
May 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyrb
Quirky, nervy little book with wonderful characterizations. Made me think of Chekhov a bit, those slightly fraught, flawed characters and the way your sympathy for them sneaks up on you. Cassandra is a lovely character. Well, they all are, even if Judith is a bit bland -- but she's supposed to be, so it's OK. And you end up sympathizing with her for just having had to grow up in the shadow of her sister's wacky brilliance.

The Aristophanes connection is accurate, but it's also kind of simplistic
July 2012

I read The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin last month, but I kept getting stuck (it's the longest short book I've ever read), so to distract myself I started working through my NYRB collection instead.

There may have been a conflict of interest there.
Claire Fuller
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Identical twins Cassandra and Jude have lived together on their parents' ranch and then in a city apartment for all of their 24 years. But when Jude goes off to New York to study music, she falls in love and returns home to marry. Cassandra, invited to the wedding and to meet Jude's fiance for the first time also is on her way back. Except that Cassandra, a wise-cracking, sharp, but vulnerable young woman can't deal with Jude marrying, because she thinks she and Jude should have remained ...more
Karen Foster
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Endlessly quotable and soooo sharply written, I couldn’t get enough of the very complicated relationship between twins Cassandra and Judith. Identical in looks, yet they couldn’t be more different in character.
I love a story set in a short period of time... here we get to spend just a couple of days with the Edwards family, surrounding Cassandra’s trip back to the family home to attend( or maybe try and stop) Judith’s wedding. Whip smart, perceptive, witty and dark..... I just loved it!
To me this was a difficult read because of the subject matters of madness and twins. My grandmother was part of a twin and mad as a hatter. Her entire life she threatened to commit suicide, an act she ultimately managed to complete when I was a young girl of twelve. My mother and her sister were terrified of her and so were my sister and I. She could be lovely at times but she could be so manipulative that it made your blood run cold.
As a result of this I became very interested in psychology as
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The perfect airplane read for a person en route to a wedding, this tautly written 1962 novel about a woman falling apart, coming home to her family’s ranch to derail her twin sister’s wedding. That’s the summary – but obviously it’s about so much more: about the nature of love and obsession, about identity and the self. It’s a novel filled with light and despair, anguish and pathos and extreme feeling. It made me think of the film "Rachel’s Getting Married", another story of a conniving, ...more
Mary Durrant
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-books
I was interested to read a novel which was published the year I was born when I came across this book.
All about twins and what happens when one of them marries.
A great read!
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt
Cassandra and her twin, Judith, have always been very close, but when Judith moves to the other side of the country, and decides to marry, their relationship seems impossibly fractured. Cassandra is a fantastic character: at 24, she is a mixture of assertive and naive as she struggles to navigate the world without her sister and cope with her depression. Baker's writing on depression is amazingly, heart-breakingly astute. I was completely floored by this novel. It's sparsely populated, but each ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A viciously tense little novel, about family and solitude and the disintegration of a mind. Funny, too; surprisingly so, since while you're laughing you're also very aware of the near-certainty that nothing good can come from any of this...
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
(Review from 2014)
I received the gorgeous NYRB edition of Cassandra at the Wedding for Christmas, and from what I already knew of the book, I was almost certain that I would adore it before I even began it. This is the first of Baker’s novels which I have read, and as you can see from my five star review, I shall certainly be hunting out more of her work in future.

Cassandra at the Wedding was first published in 1962, and is hailed in its blurb as ‘a book of enduring freshness, insight, and verve
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Dorothy Baker (1907–1968) was born in Missoula, Montana, in 1907 and raised in California. After graduating from UCLA , she traveled in France, where she began a novel and, in 1930, married the poet Howard Baker. The couple moved back to California, and Baker completed an MA in French, later teaching at a private school. After having a few short stories published, she turned to writing full time, ...more
“So go, girl. We should have been one person all along, not two.” 36 likes
“You shouldn't ask me whether I like him or not. The way you mean it, I don't suppose I like anybody.” 8 likes
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