Monday, December 17, 2012

Seating Arrangements

(I have a killer cake recipe- it involves 17 layers- coming up for you on Wednesday, but just couldn't get it together quickly enough for a Monday morning post!  A little switching up of the schedule, just for the holidays.)

As you may recall, I was very excited to read this debut novel from Maggie Shipstead; just look at that adorable cover!  It's received pretty decent reviews- maybe a 77% positive rating for most of the articles I read about it.  Perhaps I am just not in the right state of mind to enjoy this summer wisp of a novel, but consider this a case of overhype and just plain unlikable characters.  
The narrator jumps around to a few different characters, though mainly rests squarely on Winn, an upper-class banker marrying off his older, pregnant daughter in a destination wedding in New England.    Throughout the three-day affair, he lusts after one of the bridesmaids, considers why he hasbeen languishing on the waitlist for an exclusive 'club' on the wedding island, makes sure his younger daughter knows he disapproves of her life choices, and gives the world's worst wedding toast.  He's also hellbent on belittling his imagined nemesis by doing everything from threatening to sue his club to sawing off the weather vane on his newly-built mansion. 
We also get peeks into the thought process of Dominique, a bridesmaid who happens to be an outsider to this lifestyle; Biddy, Winn's tolerant and patient wife; Livia, the younger daughter who is getting over her own social embarrassment; and Agatha, the temptress bridesmaid.  A few of these characters are more relatable than Winn, though, honestly, not by much. 
My biggest issue with the book, other than the fact that I was hoping for so much more, is that there seems to be no point within its pages.  The plot is easy enough to follow (get a lot of WASPs together on an island with whale shorts and liquor, add a wedding and a father-of-the-bridezilla), but the ending is practically non-existent and there is virtually no character arc to Winn.  The guy who dominates the book just goes further and further into his warped idea of what life should be like, without coming to any actual conclusions about his lifestyle and ideals.  
One reviewer said it perfectly with this quote, "The whitest book I read all year, and I read The Marriage Plot."  I couldn't have said it better.  This book has no dark meat, nothing to really sink your teeth into or add flavor.  Pass.

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