What a wonderful way to begin a writing debut. Seating Arrangements is a well written novel, that held my attention throughout the entire story. An excellent story teller, Maggie Shipstead has a way of telling a story that intrigued me. Her writing style allowed me to envision the characters (the Van Meter family, the Duff’s, the Fenn’s and their extended family and friends) and the scenery of the New England Island of Waskeke.
The story centers around a three day wedding weekend that Winn Van Meter and his wife Biddy are planning for the eldest and pregnant daughter Daphne. They have invited the grooms (Greyson Duff) family and some of Daphne’s friends to their summer home in Waskeke. Immediately the story seems to center around Winn Van Meter. Winn is a very stiff, uppity.well to do family man that has worked hard to acquire and maintain a high social ranking among his peers. As the story goes on it seems that everything for Winn starts to unfold and he is made aware that socially and financially he cannot compete with his peers. Winn reminds me of so many people of today. On the outside things may seem so wonderful, but they have so many issues and insecurities that it is deceiving to others, but eventually the truth is revealed.
Over the course of the three day weekend, it becomes clear that these pretentious families on this island have so many dysfunctions it becomes hilarious, but yet sorrowful. They are searching hard to be so prim and proper, they become somewhat classless. It is nice to read a story that takes on a realistic approach about people no matter what socioecomic level they may fall under. I was not expecting the lust, indiscretions and bad behavior. There was a humanistic side to all of the characters in the story and I found it very enjoyable.
The ending was not as I anticipated, but I guess are endings ever what we are anticipating. Seating Arrangements was a small treat while trying to unwind, relax or enjoy my day. Again, this was a nice debut for Maggie Shipstead.