on 26 August 2005
This is a book I cannot recommend highly enough. Cassandra could be the big sister of Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye, with her pithy one-liners and caustic asides that hide a sad, sweet vulnerability. Do not make the mistake of thinking that because Cassandra at the Wedding is a modern classic it is an earnest, dusty old tome - it is an absolute joy to read, and so fresh and accessible that it could have been written today. Witty, wry, poignant and beautifully written, it is the story of two sisters, twins, and their search for identity. Their verbal sparring is second to none - and it also has the best hangover scene I've ever read (see chapter 3).
on 30 April 2012
Never judge a book by it's cover - never more true than with this book. Why they chose the chit-lit look is beyond me... but luckily what's inside is a treasure! It's quite common for sister's when they're young to promise to spend the rest of their lives together, for their husbands and families to all live together, or at worst to live in the same neighbourhood - but what if those sister's are twins, and part of a kooky family that are isolated from wider society, and then one twin moves away and falls in love? Cassandra is the "left behind" twin, a funny, selfish, impulsive, heavy drinker. This is the story of when she returns home for the wedding, or if she has her way - the non-wedding. A short, fun, and moving novel.
on 29 November 2012
This is a brilliant exploration of the nature of identity which moved me to tears and caused me to laugh out loud on numerous occasions. The style was - as mentioned by another reviewer - fresh and easy to read, and I found people and places formed easily in my mind's eye.
The protagonist Cassandra is a fantastic character, very complex and real, with more than her share of flaws; but I loved her all the more for them. I also particularly liked the girls' Grandmother and the way Cassandra related to her. The author is obviously adept at portraying emotions and drawing people sympathetically, but somehow still showing them in a brutally honest light.
I have to admit that while reading this book I recognised certain aspects of myself in Cassandra, along with aspects of my own relationship with my sister in her and Jude's relationship - and that this wasn't a particularly pleasant experience. However, this is exactly the kind of book I enjoy reading and don't consider a waste of time or money - because I feel I feel I gained something from reading it. Also, thanks to it being so entertaining, I know I'll read it again.
Highly recommended - 4.5 Stars.
How do you react when your identical twin sister announces her intention to get married? Particularly if you have spent your entire childhood in the self-contained bubble of a rural backwater, with an academic philosopher for a father, encouraging you to dissect every thought, and a novelist mother to feed your preoccupation with words? What if your parents have laboured to make you different in superficial matters, overlooking the fact that you differ in the deep sense that one twin wishes to share the same life forever whilst the other wishes to break free into adulthood?
This recipe for high drama is a gripping page turner. I could not wait to get to the end, knowing that I would need to go back later to milk Baker's keen prose for the full sense of all her sharp and original observations. It often reads like the plays for which the author was well-known, with the advantage that a novel gives scope for the deeper introspection and exploration of the characters' inner thoughts.
The book is written from the alternating viewpoints of the two sisters: Cassandra and Judith, which gives you in time their very different takes on the same situations. Cassandra is neurotic, manipulative, a keen observer of others, with a biting wit, but an utterly unreliable narrator who lacks a sense of proportion, a source of huge irritation but also great sympathy to the reader. This is a tragi-comedy with many moments of great humour, and a light touch which adds to the pathos of the sadder events without making them too heavily dreary or depressing. Unlike some reviewers (including Lowri Turner in the introduction to my copy, which was a total spoiler so I am glad I did not read it beforehand), I did not find the ending disappointing - rather neat yet also satisfyingly ambiguous in some ways.
It is surprising that such a modern-seeming novel should have been written fifty years ago by someone born in 1907. It does not seek to shock, because it does not need to do so to stand out, with its subtle and distinctive approach. I am sure that, if written today, it would be on all the major prize shortlists.
on 4 December 2012
I found this listed in the New York Review of Books as a "forgotten masterpiece" or something similar. So bought it as a birthday present for my highly literate and discriminating brother. Who loved it and praised it so highly for the sophistication and elegance of it's writing, that I'm about to read it myself.
Cassandra is one of twin daughters. Their mother has died in the not too distant past, but They live with their grandmother and father, both of whom are not given much to do in this novel. It’s the women who are important in this well-written and highly enjoyable book. Cassandra and her twin sister Judith have been at different colleges. But are on their way home to the Ranch, where they live charmed lives. Cassandra is the chief protagonist. Her sister Judith is a talented musician who is planning a wedding to a medical student, and Cassandra has a Thesis to finish.
Something goes wrong shortly after they arrive home. But rather than say exactly what, I’ll leave the reader to find out for herself. It puts the life of one of the sisters at risk; however, it doesn’t stop the wedding.
The writing is careful and clever. We immediately sense which of the sisters is going to prove to be a problem and her particular mindset is beautifully delineated. The book brilliantly arrives at a final situation and along the way we have seen that a devastating idea has been worked through, awkwardly and piquant by turns. The character creation is absolutely superb, The sisters’ conversations are marvellously written and we catch at the meanings that lie beneath their talk. It demonstrates their closeness, even while they are at odds in this deeply solid relationship. This is a brilliantly written book. Sharp, devastating and marvellously erudite. I found it deeply affecting. It also demonstrates how to create someone unbalanced, difficult, but still ultimately loveable. I liked this one a lot.
on 5 January 2013
I have never read anything by this author before but was gripped by a review in the newspaper so ordered it and could hardly put it down. It is tightly written with wit and acute insight into family and sibling relationships.Timeless and a book I shall re-read.
on 4 October 2013
This well-written and emotionally engaging novel takes the reader deep into the world of a person narrator - first one twin and then the other. I found all the characters and the setting credible and involving. Well worth a read.
on 28 December 2012
I heard about this book; it was described as a 'timeless masterpiece'. High praise! It is worthy of that and more. This book is well written, witty and thought provoking. I have already bought and gifted three copies. Buy it and relish well crafted writing.
on 31 October 2015
Excellent classic of American literature, highly recommended.