Seating Arrangements- A Review



Seating Arrangements

by Maggie Shipstead

published by Alfred A. Knopf



Winn Van Meter is heading for his family’s retreat on the pristine New England island of Waskeke. Normally a haven of calm, for the next three days this sanctuary will be overrun by tipsy revelers as Winn prepares for the marriage of his daughter Daphne to the affable young scion Greyson Duff.  Winn’s wife, Biddy, has planned the wedding with military precision, but arrangements are sideswept by a storm of salacious misbehavior and intractable lust: Daphne’s sister, Livia, who has recently had her heart broken by Teddy Fenn, the son of her father’s oldest rival, is an eager target for the seductive wiles of Greyson’s best man; Winn, instead of reveling in his patriarchal duties, is tormented by his long-standing crush on Daphne’s beguiling bridesmaid Agatha; and the bride and groom find themselves presiding over a spectacle of misplaced desire, marital infidelity, and monumental loss of faith in the rituals of American life.

Hilarious, keenly intelligent, and commandingly well written, Shipstead’s deceptively frothy first novel is a piercing rumination on desire, on love and its obligations, and on the dangers of leading an inauthentic life, heralding the debut of an exciting new literary voice. (from Goodreads)

My Review

I put off writing this review for almost a week, because I do not like writing negative reviews.  Usually, if I read a book for pleasure and do not enjoy it, I just chalk it up to a bad choice.  This time, I figured I should at least explain why.

I was really looking forward to reading this book.  I enjoyed Beautiful Day by Elin  Hilderbrand so much, and this looked like it had a similar storyline.  A wealthy family, a daughter’s wedding in affluent New England beach town, told from different perspectives.  A fun read for our plane rides to and from Disney.  Well, this was totally not the fun, breezy story I thought it would be.  Almost every single character in this book is either truly screwed up, or just creepy.  The bride, seven months pregnant, is the most normal character, since we barely get to know her at all.  Her sister, and maid of honor is in SERIOUS need of therapy.  The  wonderful father of the bride spends almost the whole book either fantasizing about one of the bridesmaids, feeling guilty about his fantasies, or actually trying to sleep with said bridesmaid.  And these are the main characters.  I normally do not like to give 2 stars- why bother- but this story really left me slightly ill- and that was before my son came down with the very “magical” stomach bug he brought back from Mickey’s house.   I really don’t recommend this book unless you are a huge fan of train wrecks and staring at accidents on the side of the highway.  Or just want to feel good that you are not one of these people.


2.5 out of 5 stars

9 thoughts on “Seating Arrangements- A Review

  1. Oh no! Sorry you didn’t like it. I always appreciate the occasional negative review so I know what to avoid. Although I do like reading about screwed up people, this one doesn’t sound good.

  2. I didn’t love this book either, and I also had expected something really different before I read it. I thought it would be, I don’t know, maybe whimsical or something. I just found it all so depressing, and I agree, the bride seems like the only decent person of the whole lot, even though we barely get to know her. 😦

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