Testimony

( 270 )

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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 compellinglyexplores 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.
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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.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Bette-Lee Fox
A tale that is mesmerizing, hypnotic, and compulsive. No one walks away unscathed, and that includes the reader.
Library Journal
Sherryl Connelly
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.
New York Daily News
Jennifer Roolf Laster
Gripping. . . . TESTIMONY will break your heart even as you race on to the next page.
Houston Chronicle
Carmela Ciuraru
Haunting....Paced like a thriller, TESTIMONY sustains its intensity to the end.
Hallmark
Joanne Wilkinson - Booklist (starred review)
PRAISE FOR TESTIMONY:


"Shreve, consummate craftsman and frequent provocateur, is on fire in her latest novel, a mesmerizing read centering on a sex scandal at a prestigious Vermont prep school....Shreve views all of the characters, even the most flawed, with a good deal of compassion, revealing the heartbreaking consequences of a single reckless act."
Hallmark
"Haunting....Paced like a thriller, TESTIMONY sustains its intensity to the end."
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."
Houston Chronicle
"Gripping. . . . TESTIMONY will break your heart even as you race on to the next page."
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."
From the Publisher
"A rare and beautiful recounting of the miracle of healing for a family wounded by catastrophic losses who manages to overcome and go forward, sometimes in uncharted and completely unexpected ways.... One can literally feel the bone-chilling cold weather and their struggles through the deep snowdrifts as the beautifully developed characters create an experience that leaves the listener feeling privileged to have met such complex and wonderful people and shared their triumphs of spirit." (For LIGHT ON SNOW)—AudioFile Magazine

"A fine example of how audio can occasionally transcend print..."—Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594263586
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
  • Publication date: 10/21/2008
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Anita Shreve
Anita Shreve is the critically acclaimed author of 14 novels, including Body Surfing, The Pilot's Wife, which was a selection of Oprah's Book Club, and The Weight of Water, which was a finalist for England's Orange Prize. She lives in Massachusetts.

Biography

For many readers, the appeal of Anita Shreve’s novels is their ability to combine all of the escapist elements of a good beach read with the kind of thoughtful complexity not generally associated with romantic fiction. Shreve’s books are loaded with enough adultery, eroticism, and passion to make anyone keep flipping the pages, but the writer whom People magazine once dubbed a “master storyteller” is also concerned with the complexities of her characters’ motivations, relationships, and lives.

Shreve’s novels draw on her diverse experiences as a teacher and journalist: she began writing fiction while teaching high school, and was awarded an O. Henry Prize in 1975 for her story, “Past the Island, Drifting.” She then spent several years working as a journalist in Africa, and later returned to the States to raise her children. In the 1980s, she wrote about women’s issues, which resulted in two nonfiction books -- Remaking Motherhood and Women Together, Women Alone -- before breaking into mainstream fiction with Eden Close in 1989.

This interest in women’s lives -- their struggles and success, families and friendships -- informs all of Shreve’s fiction. The combination of her journalist’s eye for detail and her literary ear for the telling turn of phrase mean that Shreve can spin a story that is dense, atmospheric, and believable. Shreve incorporates the pull of the sea -- the inexorable tides, the unpredictable surf -- into her characters’ lives the way Willa Cather worked the beauty and wildness of the Midwestern plains into her fiction. In Fortune’s Rocks and The Weight of Water, the sea becomes a character itself, evocative and ultimately consuming. In Sea Glass, Shreve takes the metaphor as far as she can, where characters are tested again and again, only to emerge stronger by surviving the ravages of life.

A domestic sensualist, Shreve makes use of the emblems of household life to a high degree, letting a home tell its stories just as much as its inhabitants do, and even recycling the same house through different books and periods of time, giving it a sort of palimpsest effect, in which old stories burn through the newer ones, creating a historical montage. "A house with any kind of age will have dozens of stories to tell," she says. "I suppose if a novelist could live long enough, one could base an entire oeuvre on the lives that weave in and out of an antique house."

Shreve’s work is sometimes categorized as “women’s fiction,” because of her focus on women’s sensibilties and plights. But her evocative and precise language and imagery take her beyond category fiction, and moderate the vein of sentimentality which threads through her books. Moreover, her kaleidoscopic view of history, her iron grip on the details and detritus of 19th-century life (which she sometimes intersperses with a 20th-century story), and her uncanny ability to replicate 19th-century dialogue without sounding fusty or fussy, make for novels that that are always absorbing and often riveting. If she has a flaw, it is that her imagery is sometimes too cinematic, but one can hardly fault her for that: after all, the call of Hollywood is surely as strong as the call of the sea for a writer as talented as Shreve.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 270 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(54)

4 Star

(73)

3 Star

(64)

2 Star

(51)

1 Star

(28)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 270 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 11, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    avid reader, anita shreve fan

    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!

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Not Bad

    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.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    MUST READ

    i never read an anita schreve before but because of this book - i want to read more of her.<BR/><BR/>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.<BR/><BR/>a must read!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Good Book-Kept me up reading

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2009

    Good, but not good enough

    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!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good idea, good writing, but poorly structured.

    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.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 29, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    This is a well-written, thought provoking story . . . .

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I couldn't put it down. I had to find out what happened next.

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not what I expected

    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....

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2009

    Uncanny Similarity

    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?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Should Be Required Reading for High School Teachers and Students

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2009

    FRAUD

    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.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2009

    Weak, not original, too many characters

    This book was an extreme diapointment. Too many characters that were<BR/>not important to the plot and simply confuses the reader.<BR/>I found myself having to look back to see who the specific character was,<BR/>that was very annoying.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 14, 2008

    Placing blame...

    Anita Shreve<BR/>ISBN: 9780316059862<BR/>Little, Brown & Co., 2008<BR/>Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com, 11/08<BR/>4 Stars<BR/>Placing blame¿<BR/>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. <BR/>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. <BR/>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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2013

    Love Anita Shreeve

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012

    Terrible

    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!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Searingly emotional

    Intense emotions; some scenes you will never forget.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2010

    Sad and disturbing

    I generally love to read Anita Shreve novels for their thought-provoking insights into the human character. This book is written in an interesting format, in which each character (major and minor) takes turns giving their side of the situation, but the story is so sad and disturbing and depressing that I read fast to get to the end, rather than savoring her writing as I usually do. I felt at the end as if the insights offered weren't worth the reading of the book, and overall it was just sort of morbid. My favorite novel of hers is 'the last time they met' which I would recommend over this one if you're new to reading Shreve.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2009

    Definitely a disappointment

    I usually like when authors switch character's point of view, however in Testimony, there were so many shifts that it was hard to connect with any of the characters. I found myself just skimming through the chapters because I had no vested interest in any of them. I realize that the story was intended to show how a single incident can affect so many people's lives, however, there were just too many to become really into the plot. It was very disappointing.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2009

    Testimony

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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