Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Screen Shot 2018-12-28 at 7.33.40 AM.png

Seating Arrangements takes place over the course of three days, the last of which Daphne Van Meter will be marrying Greyson Duff. The story largely focuses on Daphne’s father, Winn Van Meter, and weaves in and out of his past as he comes to terms with his life, both of his daughter’s decisions, and reflects on his marriage. Set in New England, the story is filed with WASP-y characters of Ivy League descent, some (like Winn) still trying to claw their way up the social ladder well into their middle-age, and attempting to impose the same expectations on their children.

I was fascinated with the lives of the Van Meter’s and the Duff’s and enjoyed sifting through each family member’s back story. Each brought an added complication to the wedding weekend and each was revealed slowly at a realistic pace. This story is rooted in family dynamics and relationships. As I said, nothing about the apathy towards the characters or the New England vibe distracted me from the root of the story. The setting was well-described for someone who has never visited New England and is not familiar with the lifestyle.

I think this is one of those books where readers will confuse their dislike for the characters with a dislike for the book as a whole. It would be a mistake to assume this is a book about “rich people problems” because that is a very surface level generalization which I don’t think really describes the book at all. There are a smattering of reviews of this book on Goodreads which I disagree with entirely. They are simply lazy reviews.

I was worried that the ending would not be fitting with the rest of the novel, but thankfully that was not the case.

This is a rare book which after checking out my copy from the library, I have added to my purchase list for the coming year because I would like to have a personal copy for my own library to re-read again someday.

4 thoughts on “Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s