Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Seating Arrangements

The short review - don't waste your time with this book. If you want to know why I say that read on.

I saw this book hyped a few different places as a fun summer read. I think it's the author's debut novel (I don't feel like looking it up right now). I read it on my Kindle app only because I had ordered a while back from the library and forgot to cancel it. I really wish I had gotten the real paper copy as when I finished the book last night I noticed a couple of recommended reads at the back - The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe and the Emperor's Children by Claire Messud. All of which I read and didn't like any of them. Had I gotten a paper copy of the book I would probably have flipped through it enough to see that and put it back on the shelf. So yes, this was probably my last Kindle book too.

Ok, so what was so bad? It started off well enough, father of the bride heads to his beach house to join his wife, daughters, bridesmaids etc for his daughter, Daphne's upcoming wedding. When he arrives, everything is as chaotic as one would expect.  Seems like a fun concept.

Winn is a banker and they live in Connecticut but have a beach house on a fictional island called Waskeke. They're well off but by no means the most affluent of their social crowd. Status (especially club memberships) are extremely important to Winn, but he gets annoyed at ostentatious shows of wealth. Typical New England money mentality.  He is very concerned about other peoples opinions of him and his family, and is quite ashamed that Daphne is visibly pregnant at her own wedding. 

His other daughter, Livia, recently was dumped by her boyfriend once he found out that she, too, was pregnant. She is studying to be a marine biologist and as luck would have it a whale beaches near their home shortly before the wedding.  (Seinfeld flashback).

Other characters include Agatha who Winn has a long-standing crush on, Dominique the rational, practical friend, who helps Biddy with the final details when no one else seems capable, Celeste the alcoholic sister in law, and Sam Snead the wedding planner.

I feel as the though the author wasn't sure if she wanted to make this a satire (got close with some ridiculous subplots) or a step up from fluff beach read.  Either way I think she missed the mark.  Just like Bonfire of the Vanities, I didn't like or sympathize with any of the characters, which makes it hard for me to enjoy a book.  I need to have someone that I either can relate to/cheer for whatever.  In this case they were all just a dysfunctional bunch. 

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