Testimony: A Novel

Testimony: A Novel

3.2 274
by Anita Shreve

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At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices--those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal--that details the…  See more details below


At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices--those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal--that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her own greatest work, Anita Shreve delivers in TESTIMONY a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller. No one more compellingly explores the dark impulses that sway the lives of seeming innocents, the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas, and the ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The large cast does justice to Shreve’s engrossing novel. For once, the high school students—including Brian Kennedy as Silas, Eve Bianco as Noelle, Joshua Swanson as Rob, and Jill Apple as Sienna—sound genuinely young. Ellen Archer teases out all the meaning and emotion she can from the relatively small part of Anna, Silas’s mother. Robert Petkoff is less persuasive as Mike, the headmaster of the school, Anna’s eventual lover, and a pivotal figure in the dramatic events that unfold at Avery Academy. He sounds dispassionate and factual, but Shreve makes it clear that Mike is egotistical and rash. Photos and credits of all the cast members on the last disk are a welcome bonus as most of the performers deserve attention after their riveting narratives and fine ensemble work. A Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 11). (Oct.)

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Library Journal

Shreve, author of the 1999 Oprah's Book Club® selection The Pilot's Wife and Resistance, which was adapted into a 2003 movie of the same name, begins her latest novel with a sex scandal at an elite New England boarding school. While a few of the characters are flat, listeners will enjoy the performances of the 14 talented readers, among them Ellen Archer, Kevin T. Collins, and Stephanie Wolfe. A fine example of how audio can transcend print; for public libraries. [Audio clip available through library.booksontape.com; the Little, Brown hc received a starred review, LJ8/08.-Ed.]
—Carly Wiggins

Kirkus Reviews
A sex scandal at a Massachusetts prep school seen through the eyes of students, teachers, parents and anyone else of even peripheral relevance. Shreve (Body Surfing, 2007, etc.) offers snapshot sketches within a framing device involving a researcher's interviews. Although the scandal-three of the school's basketball stars caught on tape being sexually serviced by a freshman girl-is almost tame by current real-life scandal standards, it is understandably life-shaking to those involved. Headmaster Mike Bordwin's attempts to contain the situation backfire when the girl's outraged parents call the police. His hard-won career disintegrates, as does his already shaky marriage. Those losses are nothing compared to his private sense of guilt; Bordwin knows Silas, a gifted scholarship student, was part of the filmed party only because he was very drunk, and he was drunk because he'd caught his mother in bed with Bordwin that morning. A sensitive moral innocent, Silas is horrified at his own behavior. Unable to face his girlfriend, he spends a cold New England night outside writing an apology and freezes to death. Naturally his mother, a devout Catholic, blames herself and her adulterous affair for the loss of her beloved only child. The other boys' mothers have their own guilt. Ellen sent Rob to boarding school to protect him from the very temptations to which he succumbed. Expelled, Rob now loses his early admission to Brown. Michelle, who has long sensed dark tendencies in James, now wishes she had been a stronger parent. James, who calls himself J.Dot, is a shallow unrepentant party animal. He blames the girl. As does Shreve, who paints "Sienna" as a 14-year-old vixen with no qualms aboutpretending she's the victim, although she purposefully set out to seduce the boys, particularly J.Dot. Afterward she moves on to a new school and, one suspects, new victims. Thoughtful Rob is the only one with a genuinely positive outlook on his future. Slick but lacking depth. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh/William Morris Agency
Sherryl Connelly - New York Daily News
"Gripping....Shreve sets us down in a swirling drama that ruins lives, ends one, all stemming from a night of drunken abandon at a prep school."
Joanna Powell - People
" Contrasting the sweetness of young love with the primal recklessness of lust, Shreve paints a chilling portrait of how bad decisions in brief moments can ruin lives."
Jennifer Roolf Laster - Houston Chronicle
"Gripping. . . . TESTIMONY will break your heart even as you race on to the next page."
Carmela Ciuraru - Hallmark
"Haunting....Paced like a thriller, TESTIMONY sustains its intensity to the end."
From the Publisher
"A tale that is mesmerizing, hypnotic, and compulsive. No one walks away unscathed, and that includes the reader."—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal"

Gripping....Shreve sets us down in a swirling drama that ruins lives, ends one, all stemming from a night of drunken abandon at a prep school."—Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News"

Contrasting the sweetness of young love with the primal recklessness of lust, Shreve paints a chilling portrait of how bad decisions in brief moments can ruin lives."
Joanna Powell, People"

Gripping. . . . TESTIMONY will break your heart even as you race on to the next page."—Jennifer Roolf Laster, Houston Chronicle"

Haunting....Paced like a thriller, TESTIMONY sustains its intensity to the end."—Carmela Ciuraru, Hallmark

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Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Edition description:
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5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.00(d)


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Testimony 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 273 reviews.
loverofbooks27 More than 1 year ago
I have read everything that Shreve has written to date. I looked forward to this book. However, I was very disappointed. The characters were weak, and too predictable. Her storyline just didn't have the impact I would have thought that this storyline would have had. By using each character to tell the story I think it left the plot weak. The book was too predictable. This is not one of her best works. Very disappointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was an enjoyable read. The story was very intriguing and suspenseful. The thing that really bothered me about this book was how it was written. Shreve chooses to go back and forth between about 20 different characters which gets really annoying because half of the characters are extremely insignificant to the story.
DaniHall More than 1 year ago
i never read an anita schreve before but because of this book - i want to read more of her.

this book was amazing in so many ways. it was a slow read for the first 80 pages but after that, i couldn't put it down. the characters are amazing and could be the person who sat next to you in college or high school. it's real. the story is given up front and then goes backward which is beautiful. it tells you the end result right away and then starts to tell you what happened before, during and after the end result.

a must read!
loves2readIL More than 1 year ago
Ms. Shreve's sensitive story telling about a sexual incident that takes place in a private school and how it affects several families is a wonderful book. This could have been a very difficult topic to write about but Ms. Shreve carried it off very well. Told from the various views of the people involved, as a reader you get everyone's opinion, which keeps you wanting to read page after page. The characters are well developed.
c5b More than 1 year ago
This was also my least Shreve book. It was very Jodi Picoult'ish in the way it's told - each person is a chapter - but not as effectively as Picoult. Even though it's a potential wake-up call for teenagers who might read this I don't feel that's what was intended as Shreve doesn't usually write for teenage boys. Thus, I don't feel they would read this. As for parents of teenage boys - I think they are already aware of these types of situations (I have 15 & 18 year olds and have talked with them about this kind of thing for the last several years). The story was good, the plot good, too many characters with not all of them developed enough - especially that of Mike's wife, in my opinion. If the story had been a bit longer, more involved with some of the characters and their relationships with each other it would have been a much better read. To me, this was more of a rough draft - still requiring work, but good start!
cewilch More than 1 year ago
I have long appreciated Anita Shreve's writing style and her ability to portray sensitive subject matters in an understandable way. The story is told in alternating chapters by the different characters. Even though I understand why it was done this way, there were a couple of times I had difficulty discerning whether we were in the past or present tense in the chapter being read. With that said, even though parts of this story were painful to read, I was touched by it and brought to tears in certain parts. The suprise element at the ending was interesting and possibly meant to be somewhat redeeming in nature for the students involved in the incident. I always look forward to the next Anita Shreve book.
CarolP More than 1 year ago
When I started this book, I thought it would be just another sensationalism on a rape case, but it was not at all. The perspective of each character told in turn, brought forth the story in such a way that i just couldn't put it down. And, when I finished the book, I had such a tightness in my chest from the emotional trip, that I had to go listen to some crazy music just to alleviate the mood.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did anyone else read The Headmaster's Dilemma by Louis Auchenclaus? His novel took place at a New England boarding school, Averhill Academy. Shreve's is Avery Academy, also in New Elgland. Averhill's headmaster, Mike. Avery's is Michael. Coincidence?
Vicki2 More than 1 year ago
The key to The Testimony is how one's actions can have a domino effect on others. In a very timely story (read current newspapers about teen sexting), Shreve details the lives of many people effected by the actions of just four students. The bad behaviors of these four leave a permanent and irreparable mark on the lives impacted. The story takes place in a private high school setting in New England but could translate to any school, anytown, USA. I recommend the book highly and have passed it to my daughter, a high school teacher, as recommended reading for her advanced students and colleagues. Anita Shreve's writing is wonderful as usual, her characters rich and believable.
book_me_up More than 1 year ago
I have loved Anita Shreve ever since I read Fortune's Rocks. The idea behind this book intrigued me, and I enjoyed it to about half way at which point it got difficult to remember who each character was. As the title suggests, each chapter is written as a testimony of a person who was somehow involved in the incident at this prestigious school. This makes it hard to really get into any of the characters fully. And you are introduced to a new character with a new perspective every few chapters. Also the book goes back and forth on the timeline, and sometimes it's hard to piece the parts together. I found myself asking did this happen before that did? It was a "novel" idea of writing a book (pun unintended), but it got annoying after a while.
ReviewYourBook.com More than 1 year ago
Anita Shreve
ISBN: 9780316059862
Little, Brown & Co., 2008
Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com, 11/08
4 Stars
Placing blame¿
The cassette looked small, innocent, and harmless; it was anything but. The cassette ended up on the desk of the headmaster of the Avery Academy, a prestigious New England boarding school. Scandal rocks the town. Someone had taped several male students from the Academy having sex with a young girl.
The story is told from several points of view. My perception of an event will be different from another¿s perception. The truth lies somewhere in between. You come to know each character and their nuances. Not all the characters are likable, in fact they all seemed to have the attitude ¿it was someone else¿s fault¿ or ¿why me¿ and ¿poor little me.¿ Sadly, this plot could have been ripped from the headlines.
Each chapter is short and to the point. Testimony is a fast and easy read. Anita Shreve examines the reaction of a town, parents, and students to scandal. This book will leave you thinking and questioning your own belief system. At first appearance, the plot is superficial. Then, as you begin to read you realize this is a deep story. There is more depth than what I first thought. The plot is complex and multifaceted. Hidden deep under the original event were the true stories; the readers have to ferret out the facts. There are consequences to all decisions, actions, and events. Readers will not want to miss this gripping drama.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hadn't had the opportunity to read a Shreeve novel for quite some time. This one didn't disappoint. Deals with current and relative subject matter that makes you think of things from many different perspectives. She has strong voice and characterization. You feel like you really know these people. Great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was one of the worst books I have ever read. Don't waste your time. The plot is disjointed and extremely hard to follow. I kept waiting for it to get better but it didn't. It was like an endless root canal!
SuseNJ More than 1 year ago
Intense emotions; some scenes you will never forget.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to be honest, as much as this book bored me, I was quite interested in the end. The last eighty pages or so, I couldn't stop reading, which was quite unusual, because a day before, I wouldn't even pick the book up--it was so boring. And I didn't appreciate the constant time flips and flops. I mean, unless you're into that sort of thing or you're the type of person who's good at deciphering what year the book's in at any particular point within it, I should tell you now, that it is definitely quite the brain stretcher. Some of it's in 2006, some in 2008 or 2007. I don't even know. But anyway. I have to say, the characters were great; they each had an amazingly distinct voice. It was as if Shreve gathered up completely different people to write for every character. I was absolutely in awe when I read all of the characters and realized that ONE woman wrote each of these characters. I mean, Shreve proved to me how versatile she is. She can write from the perspective of a insolent teenaged boy to the perspective of a vapid fourteen-year-old girl to the perspective of a scholarly private school headmaster, without any strings attached to one another. They all have their own voice, and I think that's what I liked the most about this book. The plot was alright. There was way too much lag in the middle of the book and the foreshadowing in the beginning of the book kind of ruined it--notwithstanding, the end was great. I would recommend this book to someone with a lot of time on their hands, because I definitely can't say it was a book that was for a one-day reader. They'd be bored out of their minds. It takes a while, I guess, to let it soak in.
GreenAndBlueStars More than 1 year ago
I was really eager to start this book and when I finally got it, I found that I just couldn't finish it. It was hard to get in to and when I thought it would pick up, it just didn't. I felt like the story wasn't going anywhere and that I was never making any progress. I didn't feel the build-up to the turning point in the book. I didn't mind reading from different points-of-view, but felt like I was circling the story. Had to put this one down and move on to something else....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a big Anita Shreve reader. This book was good but not nearly as good as some of her past books such as Sea Glass and Fortune's Rock. As always she tells a good story that has some good thought provoking conversational undertones to it. Character development was a little too typical and not always realisitic.
EasthPayson1842 More than 1 year ago
This story is based almost entirely on true events. Passing this book off as fiction is a horrifying act of fraud. Anita is simply profiting from an actual event that ruined many lives and had a profoundly tragic impact on the community in which it took place. This comes from someone who was present in that community when the "tape" event took place. Shreve should be ashamed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed other Shreve novels, but this novel (?) had many flaws. The style was awkward in this "novel" format, & this probably would work better as a book on tape/dramatic reading. In the novel format, it also lacks rhythm & continuity, and the perpetual reminders of the "theme" were VERY irritating. Finally, I found most of the characters weak & one-dimensional; therefore, they do not seem real, & do not elicit sympathy or empathy. Again, the characters might seem more believable if one listened to a dramatic reading of this book? Buy one of her other novels!
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bayangel More than 1 year ago
I thought this was an amazing novel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sean_From_OHIO More than 1 year ago
This novel takes the wildly horrific events of one nights and explores the lives that are affected. The author does a fantastic job of different speaking styles for the various characters. The voices are both typical at times and insightful. While the ending is stark the book does a great job of intertwining stories then eventually mesh and make sense. The Character count is high and at times hard to remember who is who, it was still easy to follow. The novel is smartly written yet terrifying for a parent. I look forward to reading more by Anita Shreve.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago