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Seating Arrangements Paperback – 4 Jul 2013

3.7 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: The Borough Press (4 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007467737
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007467730
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘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.

facebook.com/maggieshipsteadauthor


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Surprisingly good once I got started.

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.
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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Maggie Shipstead's Seating Arrangements takes place over three days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, in the lead-up to and the day of Daphne and Greyson's wedding. Despite Winn, Daphne's father, being the main character, the story is told from multiple points of view. This gives the reader an insight into how everyone - not just the main character - feels and interprets the various events which happen over these three days.

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.
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