By Maggie Shipstead
Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95, 300 pages
Maggie Shipstead’s debut novel Seating Arrangements is a delightful romantic satire that takes place at the Van Meter vacation home on the fictional New England island of Waskeke. The setting, of course, is a wedding of Winn Van Meter’s pregnant daughter Daphne to the wealthy and steadfast Greyson Duff, and the plot follows three days of the marriage ceremony’s preparation. The buttoned-up Winn is more concerned with gaining membership in the prestigious Pequod Club than with the wedding that his resolute wife Biddy has been working on for months. This charming, Gatsby-esque comedy of errors also includes Daphne’s sexy bridesmaid who has no problem setting her sights on the older, married Winn, her dejected younger sister who recently had her heart broken by the son of Winn’s oldest rival, and a host of inebriated Nantucket revelers. Soaked in boozy, witty dialogue, Shipstead’s book provides a vivid portrayal of an endearingly flawed WASP-y family. Grab gin and tonic and flop into an Adirondack chair with this compelling and amusing beach read.
Reviewed by Laura Di Giovine