Review- Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Title:  Seating Arrangements

Genre: General Fiction

Author: Maggie Shipstead

Publisher: Knopf, June 12, 2012

Source: Free for Review from Amazon vine Program

Rating: 3.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from

Winn Van Meter is heading for his family’s retreat on the pristine New England island of Waskeke. Normally a haven of calm, for the next three days this sanctuary will be overrun by tipsy revelers as Winn prepares for the marriage of his daughter Daphne to the affable young scion Greyson Duff. Winn’s wife, Biddy, has planned the wedding with military precision, but arrangements are sideswept by a storm of salacious misbehavior and intractable lust: Daphne’s sister, Livia, who has recently had her heart broken by Teddy Fenn, the son of her father’s oldest rival, is an eager target for the seductive wiles of Greyson’s best man; Winn, instead of reveling in his patriarchal duties, is tormented by his long-standing crush on Daphne’s beguiling bridesmaid Agatha; and the bride and groom find themselves presiding over a spectacle of misplaced desire, marital infidelity, and monumental loss of faith in the rituals of American life.


Winn’s lusting after bridesmaid Agatha is central to the story.  Winn is tortured by the fact that he is not getting into the exclusive island golf club.  He becomes obsessed with both Agatha and the golf club.  These obsessions take over his mind so that he cannot focus on anything else on his eldest daughters’ wedding weekend.

There are pockets of humor throughout but this is a deeply moving account of a man tumbling into a life crisis.  Ms. Shipstead’s characterization of all parties involved is nothing short of brilliant.  Her prose is delightful.  We feel we are personally attending the festivities of the wedding weekend and are privy to all the salacious goings-on that abound.  Although there is graphic sex it is not romantic but all rather furtive.  Ms Shipstead skewers the waspy New England enclave of entitled wealth with her biting insight.  The ending left me wanting more closure or perhaps just more.


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