Thursday, August 30, 2012

Seating Arrangements, by Maggie Shipstead

Set over the course of a 3 day WASPY New England island wedding, Seating Arrangements perectly depicts and skewers the faux-genteel world of the cashless pedigreed, where shabby rugs are a sign not of being in the red, but of being blue-blooded. Daphne, the bride, is pregnant- a disappointment to her parents to be sure, but marrying Greyson Duff makes up for her indescretion. Livia, her passionate and depressed younger sister, is reeling from being dumped by Teddy Fenn after making a very public scene, and their parents, Biddy and Winn, are dealing with their own choices in this story that spares no one.
Daphne's bridesmaids, temptress Agatha, silly Piper, and self-determined Donimique, and Greyson's groomsmen, his brothers Sterling and Francis only add more tension to the party, and sexual and social tensions escalate to an almost farcical level- almost, because the writing is so strong that the escalations feel inevitable, and even Winn's desperate attack on a gaudy neighbor's weathervane can be taken as a serious rejection of a world that has passed him and 'his kind' by.
Pitch-perfect, with memorable characters and Fitzgeraldian lyricism, Seating Arrangements is a book I will be recommending to many, many readers, and I will be eagerly anticipating Maggie Shipstead's next book!

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