Book info

A Wedding In December (2006)

A Wedding in December (2006)
Author
Rating
3.06 of 5 Votes: 5
ISBN
0316154512 (ISBN13: 9780316154512)
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English
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publisher
back bay books
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A Wedding In December (2006)
A Wedding In December (2006)

About book: This novel brings seven former schoolmates together after more than 20 years to attend a wedding at an inn in the Berkshire Mountains. The tight bond held by this group of friends was shattered years earlier when one of their own died unexpectedly. The blossoming relationships and potential of each of these central characters jackknifed with the death of this friend, and the wedding reunion gives the characters an opportunity to seek out a resolution for the paths they did not follow.This is the second book I have read recently in which the others who have read it with me have been dissatisfied. This book was chosen as our December read for my book club. Many, if not all, of the other book club members were turned off by the unhappy marriages and questionable moral behavior that plays out in the novel. (But, then again, this is a church book club!) I, however, was struck by this book. While I did not completely understand the motivation of the characters, I was moved by their strong inner turmoil and their struggles to overcome weakness and temptation.Despite the setting (which is very appealing to the imagination), the book, like the other Anita Shreve novels I have read (The Pilot's Wife and The Weight of Water), is shrouded in sadness and regret. The characters are consumed with unhappiness and a feeling of general unease. A member of my book club shared that she felt the characters in this novel were underdeveloped. I believe Anita Shreve intentionally writes her characters to be vague. Like real people, they are complicated and troubled. The reader must infer understanding of the characters through their obscure thoughts and behavior.The most interesting part of this novel for me was the story within a story. In the book, the character Agnes, a lonely classmate pining for a former teacher, is writing an historical fiction short story about the Halifax disaster. The explosion that occurred in the city of Halifax in Novia Scotia during the winter of 1917 parallels the tragedy of 9/11 in this book- the characters in the novel are reuniting merely two months after 9/11. The story of Innes and Hazel (as written by Agnes in the novel) is told during and after the Halifax disaster and their relationship mirrors the others in the novel in it's tempting impossibility set against a recent tragedy. Prior to reading this novel, I had never heard of the Halifax explosion and I was saddened to learn of the deaths and injuries that occurred during that significant historical event.This book is not a good one to pick up if you are looking for a lighthearted read. While the novel is easy to follow and won't take long to finish, a melancholy feeling permeates every word and may linger for awhile after you put the book down.

A compelling novel about reality and imagination, this book held my attention throughout, even though it was slow at times. I found the characters convincing and the story absorbing. A group of college friends reunite to celebrate the wedding of a couple who were together in their youth, subsequently married other partners, and then found each other again. But nothing is simple about this reunion, and it is the revelation of each person's secrets that makes for such brilliant exploration of the themes.There were several prominent themes in the book, but I found the one about story itself to be the most fascinating. Agnes is a single woman with an interest in history. She soothes her fevered longings through fiction writing, creating characters whom she can control and through whom she can express herself. The point is made that, for many people, love requires a choice. Only one life can be experienced; the other or others must remain unlived possibilities about which one can only dream and speculate. Some, like the couple getting married, opt for exchanging the experienced life for the imagined life and hope it will work out happily. Others choose differently, and what I found so interesting was the ways in which each person justified his or her choice.The theme of sacrifice also came up strongly in the book. When is sacrifice noble and rewarding, and when is it a kind of compromise or defeat? Because the book deals with so many versions of marriage, partnership and singlehood,, each separate story is colourful in its own way.Anita Shrieve is a skilled storyteller with a talent for portraying complex characters. Her writing, while never shying away from the pain and emptiness in life, captures the beauty of fleeting moments and manages to convey an overall appreciation of living itself. A remarkable and memorable read.
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Reviews
Jacki
Well I bought this thinking it would be my tie-breaker for Anita Shreve. I've read two book by her that I enjoyed and two that I flat out hated. I won't be reading Anita Shreve anymore.After the first 100 pages or so, I started just skimming the 'story-within-a-story' parts of the book. For me, this made it much, much better. I didn't really get the point of including this story. The other thing that I hated was the whole, overall message. She should have included one couple who was at least semi-happy who hadn't gotten where they are through infidelity. I hated how the idea of infidelity was approached with the idea that if you are happier in your affair than your marriage then it's ok. As long as you're 'in love'. Puh-lease.I'm over this book. Yuck.
Destinee Sutton
I've read two Shreve novels now and I think what I've learned from her is this: Before agreeing to marry a man, one should ask him if he's actually deeply in love with someone else. If he's honest he may reveal that he's just marrying you because he thinks it'll never work out with another woman. As Shreve illustrates so well in her novels, it sucks to find out ten or twenty years into a marriage that you were actually the runner-up. I'm pretty tired of books about domestic funk. Why do I keep reading them? Do I think I'm going to find one that isn't brimming with middle class malaise? (I think I stole the phrase "middle class malaise" from the NYT review of A Wedding.) Still, I'm not gonna lie, I liked this book. I'll probably read another just like it next week. It's like I think if I read enough books about unhappy marriages I'll be able to prevent myself from entering one.
Jeanne Grunert
Anita Shreve has talent. She writes well. She creates interesting characters and seamlessly integrates flashbacks into the narrative, a skill I wish I possessed. That said, why the low rating? Because this is a book celebrating adultery. Every single married character in this book either a) cheats on his/her spouse or b) hates his/her spouse EXCEPT for the gay couple who is blissfully in love. The gay couple was, in fact, the most likable pair in the entire book. The denouement was disappointing - the truth about Stephen's death was a shrug and yawn moment rather than a dramatic exposition. I can't get behind a book that celebrates "true love" as "break your promise to the first person you married, cheat, then defend cheating by citing true love." While I've enjoyed other books by the author, this one let me down.
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