Monday, 11 May 2015

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Winn van Meter is having something of an emotional crisis! His eldest daughter Daphne is pregnant and getting married in just a few days, his younger daughter Livia is brooding after a lost love, a somewhat unwanted array of relatives and future in-laws have arrived for the wedding and he is lusting after vivacious bridesmaid Agatha!

Seating Arrangements examines pretensions, expectations and disappointments in a way that is both witty and sad. It is well written, with a situation and setting that allows good scope for the action. Several points-of-view are examined, but it’s Winn and Livia who dominate the narrative and as such have some of the best and most outlandish scenes in the book. It’s rare to come across a scene that you’ve never read the likes of before and yet there is one in this book that you’d be unlikely to find again!

Maggie Shipstead is obviously a talented young writer and this, her debut novel, is a good start. It is a very readable if not entirely enjoyable book. The disappointment for me was a decided lack of likeable characters. Even one perhaps may have added to the emotional connection required for me to truly love a book. I would recommend it as a good filler book – great for public transport, a few days off, or a break between more serious reads. I look forward immensely to reading her next works and tracking her progression as a writer.

Seating Arrangements is the Winner of the LA Times Book Prize for First Fiction & the Dylan Thomas Prize. It is a NY Times Bestseller.

Posted by CP

Catalogue link: Seating Arrangements

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