Maggie Shipstead's stunning debut novel, Seating Arrangements is an irresistible social satire that is also an unforgettable meditation on the persistence of hope, the yearning for connection, and the promise of enduring love.
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, love and its obligations, and the dangers of leading an inauthentic life, heralding the debut of an exciting new literary voice.
©2012 Maggie Shipstead (P)2012 Random House Audio
"Maggie Shipstead is an outrageously gifted writer, and her assured first novel, Seating Arrangements, is by turns hilarious and deeply moving." (Richard Russo, author of That Old Cape Magic )
"Seating Arrangements is bursting with perfectly observed characters and unforgettable scenes. This gorgeous, wise, funny, sprawling novel about family, fidelity, and social class, is the best book I've read in ages." (Courtney Sullivan, author of Maine)
"A pitch-perfect debut from a master storyteller, Seating Arrangements is a rich and deep work: a smart, consuming novel that manages also to be delightfully funny. A romp of a book, with whales and weddings and wealth, it is, at its heart, a warning against the empty seductions of status and exclusivity." (Justin Torres, author of We the Animals)
The characters are a lot like Gossip Girl characters (aka rich, beautiful, and generally unsympathetic), although the writing style is very different.
I know the characters are supposed to be annoying, but it would be nice if he didn't make the voices sound *quite* so irritating.
Disliked the book, love Arthur Morey
The headline says it all; even Arthur Morey (whom I love) couldn't salvage this one
I wish there were more well written books like Seating Arrangements, in that at the same time that it was upbeat, positive, and didn't make me feel depressed through out about horribly dysfunctional characters that so many books seems to have, it left me feeling happy about the whole experience....what a pleasure! If anyone can suggest other books like this, please feel free to contact me!
What I liked best about this story was that the characters were basically functional, & the story was fun and well written.
I listened to the book quite a while ago, so all I remember is that his performance was outstanding.
Ever since Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, there has been an onslaught of novels in which there is not a single likeable character, or even one with whom the reader can sympathize. I always finish books, even poorly written ones, but I can't bear to listen to Seating Arrangements any longer. There are just better things to do in life than to listen to a thread of a story about a bunch of shallow, narcissistic people. The writing is OK, perhaps carried by the good reading performance, but the plot is minimal and the characters boring and self-centered. Even an interesting villain would make this a better work.
No, because other writers do it better.
His voice is strong, deep and convincing -- the only thing about this book I liked.
There isn't enough here to cut, but perhaps the dirty old man sex scenes or the pathetic daughter craving love in any form scenes. It's just so depressing and tawdry.
I am sorry I bought this. The advertising reviews were grossly misleading.
Seating Arrangements was a really good book about family dynamics and relationships. I'm sure most people could relate to at least some of the characters. It helps to remind us that constantly striving for more is not the route to happiness.
No, it's too slow and tedious
Nobody goes anywhere or develops and learns anything
Yes but his characters were not particularly interesting
I won't read one of hers again
Very disappointed. Why choose a man to read this story? Why choose a man with no emotion to read this story? Never got "into" the characters -- didn't really care what happened to them.
This was the most boring, slow moving book I have purchased. I have two hours left and honestly don't feel like I can get through it. The characters are unlikable-I could care less what happens to any of them.
Purchase if you need something to put you to sleep. If you are looking for a book with a good story line and great characters-pass it by.
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