Seating Arrangements

Front Cover
Alfred A. Knopf, 2012 - Fiction - 301 pages
33 Reviews
Maggie Shipstead’s irresistible social satire, set on an exclusive New England island over a wedding weekend in June, provides a deliciously biting glimpse into the lives of the well-bred and ill-behaved.

Winn Van Meter is heading for his family’s retreat on the pristine New England island of Waskeke. Normally a haven of calm, for the next three days this sanctuary will be overrun by tipsy revelers as Winn prepares for the marriage of his daughter Daphne to the affable young scion Greyson Duff.  Winn’s wife, Biddy, has planned the wedding with military precision, but arrangements are sideswept by a storm of salacious misbehavior and intractable lust: Daphne’s sister, Livia, who has recently had her heart broken by Teddy Fenn, the son of her father’s oldest rival, is an eager target for the seductive wiles of Greyson’s best man; Winn, instead of reveling in his patriarchal duties, is tormented by his long-standing crush on Daphne’s beguiling bridesmaid Agatha; and the bride and groom find themselves presiding over a spectacle of misplaced desire, marital infidelity, and monumental loss of faith in the rituals of American life.

Hilarious, keenly intelligent, and commandingly well written, Shipstead’s deceptively frothy first novel is a piercing rumination on desire, on love and its obligations, and on the dangers of leading an inauthentic life, heralding the debut of an exciting new literary voice. 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - valerietheblonde - LibraryThing

Maggie Shipstead is an accomplished, creative, and insightful author; and you know it from the way she writes. The words are woven in such a way that indicates the author is fully aware of her skill ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - yukon92 - LibraryThing

This book about a family during a long weekend in preparation for a daughter's wedding was highly disappointing. It started well enough, but it was just too weird in the middle (exploding whales and ... Read full review

All 11 reviews »


One The Castle of the Maidens
Two The Water Bearer
Three Seating Arrangements
Four Twenty Lobsters
Five The White Stone House
Six Your Shadow at Evening
Seven The Serpent in the Laundry
A Party Ends
Nine Snakes and Ladders
Ten More than One Fish More than One Sea
Fourteen The Sun Goes over the Yardarm
Seventeen The Maimed King
Eighteen The Ouroboros

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About the author (2012)

Maggie Shipstead was born in 1983 and grew up in Orange County, California. Her short fiction has appeared in Tin House, VQR, Glimmer Train, The Best American Short Stories, and other publications. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University.

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