Seating Arrangements Paperback – 4 Jul 2013
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‘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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
I'd been looking at this one and was undecided about whether I might enjoy it or not, heard bad things about it, finally decided to give it a try and then felt that I wasn't in the right mood for it.
Decided to give it a go whilst on holiday and found that I really enjoyed the book. I can't say that I really liked Winn, although by the end of the book I had taken to him a little bit more, but I found the characters interesting and complex and I was hoping the best for the family. There was an odd bit with an exploding whale and a funny bit where marriage was compared to preparation for death, but mostly the book was just very good.
I have no experience of wealthily American families, island homes, Ivy league colleges or exclusive clubs, but I had no reason to doubt that the author had observed them all perfectly and felt that she was both honest about and sympathetic to her characters. Will definitely read more by her.
Shipstead's writing and imagery is beautiful. "The farm might have been the end of the earth. A thin seam of ocean sealed its fields to the sky, all of it coppered by the sun." And not only is she able to capture these scenes perfectly, but she interjects these long, languid sentences with short snappy dialogue which makes for varied and interesting reading.
Various characters offer us an insight into relationships, both romantic and otherwise. "Female friendship was one-tenth prevention and nine-tenths cleanup." "Because it turns out to be a choice, commitment - not some done deal."
Overall this is not a fast-paced thrill of a book, but it's not supposed to be. It's a gentle unraveling of a family, their friends and (soon to be) in-laws and the secrets that they all hold. I really enjoyed it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Engaging, real, tangible. I loved this book full of people you think you've known all your life. Can we hope for more from this gifted author?Published 7 months ago by Peter Baldus
I loved this book. The wonderful (although not likeable) characters, whose actions made me cringe at times took second place to the plot. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Wisigoth
Well written and captivating. The reader doesn't follow much of a journey and the story seems to end mid sentence.Published 12 months ago by JBelbeck
Thoroghly enjoyed this book. Kept wondering what was going to happen next. However I was very disappointed at the ending, felt somewhat cheated!Published 12 months ago by Tarkwa
I love this book and have read it twice and recommended it to everyone I know.
Very clever, unique and engaging writing style.
to begin with, I thought that I was going to like this much more than I ended up doing.
It is very American and rooted in that culture. Read more
A funny and amusing book. Behind the scenes of seemingly privileged life of a New York banker, Winn Van Meter and his family centred on the wedding of the Winn’s daughter on an... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Claire R