Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

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There’s nothing like a wedding to bring out the best or the worst in people; certainly there was nothing like his daughter’s wedding to bring out the worst behavior in Winn Van Meter.  His daughter was to be married in a few days and between Winn’s crush on his older daughter’s bridesmaid, his insensitivity to his younger daughter’s recent heartache, and his overriding obsession with social status, he just all-out behaves badly.

There are many amusing scenes in this book and some of it actually reaches “madcap” status, but many scenes are also cringe-worthy and almost painful.  I really enjoyed how the story starts out – it definitely grabbed my attention — but by the middle, it begins to meander a bit.  The cringing comes later in the story, when Winn really spirals downward, and the tragedy of his character overwhelms him.  The reader does feel a bit sorry for him – it is clear why he is who he is — but I couldn’t help hating him just a little, too.   There are some other great characters, though. I very much liked the character of his younger daughter, Livia.  She is bright and passionate and honest and she stands up to whomever crosses her, including her own father.

This was a good light read to bring on vacation in Cape Cod – luckily, that’s where I read it!

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