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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Deft and enjoyable and full of insight. - LibraryThing
... and a very abrupt ending.... - LibraryThing
But the writing was good, and it moved quickly. - LibraryThing
Lots of surprises; no hackneyed plot twists. - LibraryThing

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User Review  - paulinewiles - LibraryThing

Shipstead is an immensely talented writer, with laser-accurate descriptions and characters of remarkable depth. But this book was too subtle for my taste: the plot moved too slowly and the sparse ... Read full review

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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 »

Contents

One The Castle of the Maidens
3
Two The Water Bearer
20
Three Seating Arrangements
46
Four Twenty Lobsters
62
Five The White Stone House
73
Six Your Shadow at Evening
95
Seven The Serpent in the Laundry
113
Eight A Party Ends
142
Nine Snakes and Ladders
163
Ten More than One Fish More than One Sea
181
Fourteen The Sun Goes over the Yardarm
238
Seventeen The Maimed King
287
Eighteen The Ouroboros 297
295
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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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