A vacation from your problems – “Seating Arrangements” by Maggie Shipstead

August 17, 2012 at 9:54 pm 3 comments

Seating Arrangements” by Maggie Shipstead, Published in 2012

Let me begin by saying for some reason I thought this book was a comedy.  I thought it would be a quirky, funny, family comedy about a wedding.  This was not true.  So please dear reader be warned this is not a comedy or if it was meant to be a comedy then I just didn’t get it.

Winn is the patriarch of his family comprised of all girls, his wife and two daughters, Daphne and Livia.  While Winn comes from a fairly wealthy East Coast American family he never really seems to fit anywhere.  As he enters into his late 50s he seems even more lost.  The novel is set during the weekend of Winn’s eldest daughter’s marriage to a perfectly respectable young lad, also from a wealthy family of course.  The wedding is to take place on the island where Winn’s family has a summer home.  Of course it is not exactly picturesque because Daphne is knocked up and showing – this is certainly not how things are done.

The novel seems to primarily focus on Winn’s struggle with aging and his daughter Livia’s struggle with understanding herself and what she needs.  Neither struggle is particularly compelling. Winn exercises his mid-life crisis by trying to sleep with one of Daphne’s bridesmaids. Livia tries to find herself and heal from a terrible break up by desperately clinging to the first guy in the wedding party that pays her any attention.

The novel works hard to run a parallel between both Winn’s and Livia’s desperation.  But really they are just both kind of sad characters who seem to be stuck in some really shoddy path to self-absorption.  Unless Shipstead’s point is that the upper-crust really are pathetic then I am not sure this book hit its intended mark.  Of course it could be that she intended the beach house to be some kind respite from morality and therefore a free-for-all but I think if that were the case then it could have used a lot more humor.  If it is meant to be a vacation from the characters’ problems then it could use a few more Bob Wiley moments…but what couldn’t use more Bob Wiley moments really?


Entry filed under: August 2012 reads. Tags: , , .

A bit of spit and polish and these will do nicely Add vampires and bake at 350 degrees for about 500 pages – “A Discovery of Witches” and “Shadow of Night” by Deborah Harkness

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. calehpatterson  |  August 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm

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    • 2. Emily C  |  September 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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