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Seating Arrangements [Paperback]

Maggie Shipstead
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

4 July 2013

A New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2012 Dylan Thomas Prize and 2012 L.A. Times First Novel Prize

The Van Meters have gathered at their family retreat on the New England island of Waskeke to celebrate the marriage of daughter Daphne to an impeccably appropriate young man. The weekend is full of lobster and champagne, salt air and practiced bonhomie, but long-buried discontent and simmering lust seep through the cracks in the revelry.

Winn Van Meter, father-of-the-bride, has spent his life following the rules of the east coast upper crust, but now, just shy of his sixtieth birthday, he must finally confront his failings, his desires, and his own humanity.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Door (4 July 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0007467737
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007467730
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘Joyously good’ Daily Mail

‘A ferociously clever comedy of manners’ Guardian

‘Shipstead’s sophisticated and summery debut more than lives up to the hype’ Independent

‘Distinctive and dazzling … The world has found a remarkable, humane new voice to explain us to ourselves’ Allison Pearson, Telegraph

‘A wise, sophisticated and funny novel about family, fidelity, class and crisis’ Marie Claire

About the Author

Maggie Shipstead graduated from Harvard in 2005 and earned an M.F.A at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Currently, she is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Seating Arrangements is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I hoped for 'The Dinner', I got the leftovers... 19 Sep 2013
By K. J. Noyes TOP 500 REVIEWER
I just really DIDN'T enjoy this. It's never a good sign if I delay picking up a book to continue, and this book took me twice as long as it normally would.

The characters and their story really didn't interest me. I didn't like any of them, or see important or insightful themes and messages in their story. Well-enough written, it didn't make me laugh, cry or care.

Sorry to be harsh, but I just didn't enjoy it and wish I'd not wasted 4/5 days getting through this.

The story of a man returning to his family holiday home to meet his wife and daughters for his eldest's wedding could be humorous, blackly comic, laden with sarcasm and biting wit. It wasn't. The bride is pregnant. His youngest is mourning a recently ended relationship. Her father is contemplating infidelity (with a bridesmaid). And wondering why he hasn't been accepted into a Club.

Nothing much of anything happens, lots is said and thought.

I don't mind slow books if they have a point, something biting or gripping to hook me. This was just too limp. Very disappointed.

2.5 stars but rounded up to 3, as the writing isn't at all bad, just dull.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not necessarily a page turner 3 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I struggled to continue to pick this book up each time but was drawn back to it I was regardless. It's not necessarily a page turner but I ended up enjoying it nonetheless.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family life beautifully observed... 17 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I loved this debut novel by Maggie Shipstead and a book that genuinely had me laughing out loud at the travails of this very American family. Ostensibly an examination of the lives of the idle rich in Waskeke (a thinly-veiled portrayal of Nantucket), Shipstead not only brings us a marvellous depiction of this odd band of characters but very cleverly interweaves elements of the seminal American classic `Moby Dick' into the novel. Winn Van Meter, the patriach of the piece, is a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, not only preparing for the upcoming nuptials of his heavily pregnant daughter and the temptation of the firm young flesh of one of the bridesmaids but also his Ahab-like obsession of gaining entry to the prestigious Pequod golf club. Grappling with his position of husband and father but also his standing in the local community where what club you belong to and how affluent you are defines your status, the events of the novel unfold with gathering chaos over the course of three days. Around Winn are a motley assortment of equally confused and suffering characters notably his younger daughter, Livia floundering in the backwash of a broken relationship, a hasty abortion and a genuine sense of `where is my life going?'. Add to this an alcoholic, a louche but charming Lothario, a seductive temptress and a long-suffering wife and you have the perfect components for this witty yet well-observed examination of the human condition. The novel lends itself to a film with not only the strength of the characters but Shipstead's adept handling of place and atmosphere as the sea and green lusciousness of the island permeates the action throughout. An extremely entertaining and enjoyable debut...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fairly mundane 21 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Confusing and rather mundane so far. It may not even get finished as it seems rather pedestrianas far as I am concerned
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What an odd little book 26 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was a choice of my book club but we were all in agreement as to how beige it was !!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny and smart 22 Sep 2012
By happy1
A lot of authors go to such huge efforts to make their characters likable that it's great to come across a book where everybody is pretty vile. The interesting thing is, the more loathsome they become the more you want to read about them. Some of the dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny and some of the observations are very sharp. I particularly enjoyed the section where Winn is looking back on how the wealthy managed to avoid going to Vietnam. Most of his fellow students seemed even more repellent than him!
I do have a couple of reservations. There is a little too much looking back - Winn's obsession with his father gets tedious at times. The second reservation is more fundamental. Normally, if I see that an author studied with the Iowa Writers' Group, I view it as a plus point. Some of my favourite writers - like Curtis Sittenfeld - studied there. Unfortunately, Maggie Shipstead takes her 'creative writing' too far. Sometimes there are so many metaphors and similes that you find yourself saying, 'oh, just tell tell the bloody story.'
Despite these reservations, I would strongly recommend this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars boring, couldn't finish it 15 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read the first few pages of this book online, and also read the good reviews, and thought I would enjoy it. The characters are so cheesy, and the language/metaphors so contrived that I couldn't even finish it. Very disappointing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart Writing 15 Aug 2012
By Basement Cat VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really enjoyed reading this book, which is the debut novel from Maggie Shipstead. The beautiful writing stands out right from the beginning, and makes this book a pleasure to read.
The story concerns an upper-middle class American family wedding, and the panicky last minute arrangements which bring the insecurities of the characters to the fore. The main character is Winn, the father of the bride, and a fanatical social climber who is desperate to join the local golf club, and will go to almost any lengths to be accepted. He also has a secret lust for one of the bridesmaids, which he struggles, sometimes unsuccessfully to control. The story is mainly Winn's, tracing backwards and forwards through his life, and occasionally interwoven with chapters from other characters. Winn is not a particularly likeable person, but that does not detract from the book. In fact, I think it makes you enjoy it more, as he makes a fool of himself over the golf club and inevitably gets tripped up by his enormous ego.
Winn isn't the only person you can enjoy disliking, as most of the family are quite unpleasant at times. Whilst the wedding is the catalyst to the family problems, the reader can see from the histories of the characters that almost everybody is approaching an emotional meltdown. A great story which has a serious subject matter, but is told with great wit & quite a bit of humour.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Something different
Published 3 days ago by Christine Morris
3.0 out of 5 stars Seating Arrangements
I only bought this book as it was the choice of my reading group. Can't say I enjoyed it very much as I had no empathy for the main character.
Published 6 days ago by Mrs Lyn J Minty
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
Beautifully written, involved me from page one. Some moments where the writing was so good I stopped to read it again. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Boatlady
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab book
They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but in this case do - a fab cover for an equally fab book. I can't recommend it enough.
Published 11 days ago by Carla
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange book indeed
I gave this 3 stars as it dragged on a bit. It was chapters before I'd worked out who was who and who was related to who. I can't say I enjoyed the book because I didn't. Read more
Published 20 days ago by G. S. Coombs
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
I read the first few pages and that was enough.
Published 25 days ago by Dix13
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Holiday Read
I loved the theme of this book, arrangements for a family wedding in a privileged family in their New England holiday home, and thought at first I would really enjoy it, but I... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Elena47
3.0 out of 5 stars Liked the ending, not sure about the rest
Great ending, enjoyed the weaving together of all the threads. But spent much of the book feeling I didn't care about these characters. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jamie
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me.
I'm about half way through and still no proper story line, there is far to much background on ALL the characters. Will keep reading a little longer!! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sue Shewbrook
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful book
I must say this is the most boring book I've ever read. It is absolute rubbish complete waste of time reading it
Published 1 month ago by Stitcher T
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