Anmiryam's Reviews > Seating Arrangements

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
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's review
Jul 08, 2012

really liked it

A smart and funny look at a family confronting change -- a wedding, a soon to be born grandchild, prospective infidelity, a daughter destabilized by the end of her first serious relationship and, most of all, the unwinding of decades of self-delusions. Maggie Shipstead's portrayal of the Van Meter's during the few days before the eldest daughter's wedding is a pitch perfect satire and a well crafted examination of a individuals confronting their long held beliefs about themselves and their relationships.

At the center of the tale is Winn Van Meter, now approaching sixty, Winn has spent his life measuring his worth by his place in the narrow universe of WASP society. Ivy League education? Yes. Belong to the right clubs? Yes. Proper disdain for ostentatious signs of wealth - yes. Successful career - yes. Blond wife, but practical wife with appropriate nickname - yes. Sons set to follow in his footsteps - no, only daughters, alien creatures he has never understood how to fit into the model. Plus, he's been waiting to join the Pequod Club for three years and he's getting worried. Could the father of his daughter's ex-boyfriend, who also happens to be the man he kept out of a club at Harvard be behind it? Can he resist his daughter's bridesmaid? Could his whole world be ready to fall apart? Winn, it soon becomes clear has never learned to inhabit his own skin, to be himself. In the run up to the wedding he will irritate us, amuse us and make us cringe at his foolishness, but through it all, we feel for him and root for him. It is this dual perspective on flawed characters that is so elegantly handled by Shipstead that it's hard to believe that this is her first novel.

A great summer read, whether you are in New England or not.

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Reading Progress

July 6, 2012 – Started Reading
July 8, 2012 – Shelved
July 8, 2012 – Finished Reading

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