November 28

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Hail this little beauty.  It deserves the raves it’s received  and to win the Dylan Thomas Prize.

It’s all weddings, parties and anything goes in this sweeping tale set on the New England island of Waskeke where the Van Meters have gathered their family to celebrate the marriage of their daughter Daphne.   Lobsters, lust, love, loss and the odd lush (every family has one, right?) all come together to create one hell of a weekend.

Each character (and there are alot) are so beautifully brought to life by Shipstead.  I was never skipping through one character’s story to get to the next, which can often happen in books like this.   It is so wonderfully executed that I truly felt like I was there on Weskeke, with them – skulking around the trees & in the darkened rooms watching these folk amid their follies.  But skulking is not good manners is it, and manners – the good old upper class American variety – is what this story is built on. What I learnt about manners in this book, is you can get away with a LOT, if you just have the good manners to avoid the topic again.  Consider that my tip.

All I know is that I desperately want an invitation to the next Van Meter wedding!  I would be there with bells on.

And that is my 2 cents worth….