A Wedding in December

( 80 )

Overview

Writing with the fluent narrative artistry and the acute grasp of human motivation that distinguish all of her bestselling novels, Anita Shreve tells the compelling story of seven former schoolmates who gather at an inn in the Berkshires to celebrate a wedding. Their reunion becomes the occasion of astonishing revelations, recrimination, and forgiveness as the friends collectively recall a long-ago night that forever marked each of their lives.

Author Biography: Anita Shreve is ...

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Overview

Writing with the fluent narrative artistry and the acute grasp of human motivation that distinguish all of her bestselling novels, Anita Shreve tells the compelling story of seven former schoolmates who gather at an inn in the Berkshires to celebrate a wedding. Their reunion becomes the occasion of astonishing revelations, recrimination, and forgiveness as the friends collectively recall a long-ago night that forever marked each of their lives.

Author Biography: Anita Shreve is also the author of the bestselling novels Light on Snow, All He Ever Wanted, Sea Glass, The Last Time They Met, Fortune's Rocks, The Pilot's Wife, The Weight of Water, Resistance, Where or When, Strange Fits of Passion, and Eden Close. She lives in Massachusetts.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In Anita Shreve's ensemble novel, seven former high school friends reunite for a wedding in the Berkshires, 26 years after their graduation. This Big Chill–like gathering stirs old passions and feuds, some of which have been festering since the death of a charismatic schoolmate at a high school party. As usual, Shreve puts her characters through the emotional wringer before she sets them out to dry. Wedding in December is one of her most effective and moving works.
Carolyn See
I wouldn't want to call Anita Shreve's very enjoyable novel derivative, but it's a homage to that old movie The Big Chill and also to The Group, that Mary McCarthy novel where all those college girls get together again as women…I really liked this book. It's beautifully and imaginatively written. But I also have to admit that A Wedding in December works at one level as exceedingly high-class domestic porn—a paean to how we all wish we could live if we had the time, money, discipline and dedication.
—The Washington Post
Chelsea Cain
You might think that a clique of privileged, navel-gazing 40-somethings who reunite for a wedding and spend the weekend at an inn drinking cabernet sauvignon and rehashing prep school days would come off as a tad self-involved. And hey, you'd be right. Happily, Shreve's knack for engrossing storytelling mostly makes up for the bourgeois malaise.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
A Big Chill-like group reunites for a 40-something wedding in this melancholy story of missed opportunities, lingering regrets and imagined alternatives by Shreve (The Last Time They Met). Bill and Bridget were sweethearts at Maine's Kidd Academy who rediscovered one another at their 25th reunion. Bridget was already divorced; Bill left his family; the two have now gathered their Kidd coterie to witness their hasty wedding-Bridget has breast cancer-at widow Nora's western Massachusetts inn. The death of charismatic schoolmate Stephen at a drunken high school party hovers over the event. Stephen's then-roommate, Harrison, now a married literary publisher, remains particularly tormented by it, especially since he had (and still has) romantic feelings for Nora, who was Stephen's then-girlfriend. Abrasive Wall Street businessman Jerry, now-out-of-the-closet pianist Rob, single Agnes (who teaches at Kidd and has a secret of her own) and various children round things out. Tensions build as the group gets snowed in, and someone gets drunk enough to say what everyone's been thinking. Though Shreve's plot, characters and dialogue are predictable (as are her inevitable 9/11 rehashes), she sure-handedly steers everyone through their inward dramas, and the actions they take (and don't) are Hollywood satisfying. (Oct. 10) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A group of former schoolmates from Maine's Kidd Academy gather in the Berkshires for a wedding just three months after 9/11. In Shreve's (Light on Snow) latest, Nora, widow of a much older poet, has turned her home into an inn and is hosting the nuptials of fellow classmates Bill and Bridget. The pair had been an item at Kidd and have reunited to make it legal. The characters, all in their mid-forties, have more baggage than required for a weekend stay. Agnes, now a history teacher at Kidd, is writing a short story based on the Halifax shipping disaster of 1917 and bemoaning her longtime affair with a married man. Harrison, down from Toronto and married with two sons, has always loved Nora; at Kidd, Nora had been the girlfriend of Harrison's roommate, Stephen. The story behind Stephen's death in their senior year underlies a good deal of the tension among the guests. The many what-ifs and might-have-beens come to a head during this "happy occasion" that is also touched by heartache. Shreve's poignant story of lost love and hidden truths is a compelling read. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/05.]-Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This novel has many of Shreve's hallmarks: simple and elegant prose; characters who are entirely convincing in their portrayals of human fallibility; and a plot buildup with a twist toward the end that packs a wallop. Set in New England several months after 9/11, it is the story of seven former classmates who have not seen one another in 27 years but have come together for the wedding of Bill and Bridget, who dated during high school and then went their separate ways. They have reunited and are getting married in the face of Bridget's advanced breast cancer. Nora, who owns the inn where the wedding will be held, is trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. Agnes, Nora's former roommate, has a secret she is desperate to share. Over all of them hangs the specter of Stephen, whose charismatic life and tragic death they seem unable to address head-on. Paralleling the story of these friends is the one in the novel Agnes is writing about the Halifax explosion of 1917, a little-known disaster that resulted in the deaths of almost 2000 citizens. This story-within-a-story not only provides an eye-opening account of a piece of World War I history, but also allows Agnes to address some of her own issues. An understated and graceful exploration of the choices that people make in their day-to-day interactions and their consequences, Wedding is an excellent piece of American literature to add to any library.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A group of prep-schoolmates reunite 27 years after graduation. Seven former high-school friends gather at a beautifully restored Vermont inn owned by Nora, one of the group, for the wedding of Bill and Bridget, who spent their teen years locked at the hip and lip. Everyone had expected them to marry right after graduation, but instead they went their separate ways. Now long-divorced, Bridget is undergoing chemo for metastasized breast cancer, and Bill has left his wife to be with her for whatever time Bridget has to live. Harrison, who has harbored an unrequited love for Nora since his charismatic roommate Steve won her heart three decades before, is the first guest to arrive. Next is Agnes, who now teaches at their former alma mater; she is in possession of a secret that would shock them all. Rob, a world-class concert pianist, shows up with his lover, Josh, a choice none would have expected. Finally, Jerry, the financial success of the group, arrives in a chauffeur-driven limo with a lot of attitude and a furious wife. Subplots having to do with the suspicious drowning of Steve during senior year (were Nora and Harrison somehow responsible?), and Nora's recently deceased abusive husband, the famous poet Carl Laski, are woven in as the schoolmates compare and measure their positions in life. Shreve is at her best when observing the choices her middle-aged, middle-class characters make daily about marriage, children, health care and sex. Her depiction of Bridget and the quotidian inconvenience-along with the terror-of having cancer is notably well done. But all the masterful detail leads up to a predictable climax, like the practiced, unsurprising lovemaking of a long-married couple. Animpressive display of literary talent from Shreve (Light on Snow, 2004, etc.) that deserves to be employed in a riskier undertaking. Readers, however, will not be disappointed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641781131
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
  • Publication date: 5/2/2006
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Anita Shreve
Anita Shreve is the critically acclaimed author of twelve books, including 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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Read an Excerpt

A Wedding in December


By Anita Shreve

Little, Brown

Copyright © 2005 Anita Shreve
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-316-73899-9


Chapter One

The glaciers are receding," she said. Nora peered through the window as if she could see the progress of said glaciers some ten thousand miles north. "I read it in the paper. This morning."

The view, Harrison had noted before he'd sat down, was of still-green lawns and dormant rosebushes, of a wrought iron fence and a garden bench, of ornamental grasses and white pines. Beyond the considerable acreage was a steel ribbon of river and beyond that a range of mountains, blue-gray in the morning light.

"The birds must be confused," he said.

"They are. I ... I see them flying north all the time."

"Is it bad for business?"

"No. Not really. No one's canceled. Though the ski areas are suffering."

Nora left the window and moved to the chair opposite. He watched her cross her legs, a cuff riding just above the edge of a black leather boot and making a slim bracelet of smooth white skin. Harrison superimposed the woman he saw now over the memory of the seventeen-year-old girl he'd once known, a girl with a soft face and large almond-shaped eyes, a girl who had been graceful in her movements. The woman before him was forty-four, and some of the softness had left her face. Her hair was different, too. She wore it short, swept behind her ears, a cut that looked more European than American.

When they'd met just moments earlier at the foot of the stairs in the front hallway, Nora had been standing at a small reception desk. She'd glanced up and seen Harrison, and for a moment she'd examined him as an innkeeper might a guest one had not yet attended to. Harrison, she'd said then, advancing, and his own smile had begun. As Nora had embraced him, Harrison had felt both unnerved and buoyant-a cork floating in uncharted waters.

"Your ... your room is comfortable?" she asked.

He remembered this about her. The slight stutter, as if hesitant to speak. No, not a stutter; more a stutter step.

"Very," he said. "Great views."

"Can I get you something? Tea? Coffee?"

"Coffee would be fine. That's quite a machine there."

"It makes espresso with a lot of crema," she said, standing. "It's a draw, actually. Some of the guests have said they've come back for the coffee in the library. Well, for that and for the dumbwaiter. I put the dining room upstairs. To take advantage of the views."

On either side of the bookshelves were half columns, and below those shelves were cabinets. On one wall, there was a built-in bench upholstered in lichen stripes. The windows-a set of three facing west-had panes in the tops only, so that from the leather couch on which Harrison was seated he had an unobstructed view of the mountains.

"How long has this been an inn?" he asked.

"Two years."

"I was sorry to hear about your husband."

"You sent a card."

He nodded, surprised that Nora remembered. There must have been hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cards for such a distinguished man.

"Renovations," she said, making a gesture so as to take in the entire building. "Renovations had to be made."

"You've done a terrific job," he replied, slightly jarred by the non sequitur.

Harrison had followed signs from the center of town to the inn and then had taken the long drive up the hill to the top. When he'd reached the parking lot, the view of the Berkshire Mountains had opened up and stopped his heart in the same way that, as a boy at Cinerama, his heart had always paused as the camera had soared up and over a cliff edge to reveal the Grand Canyon or the Rift Valley or the ice fields of Antarctica.

He'd walked with his suitcase to the front steps, noting along the way the pruned bushes, the raked lawns, and, in a maze that had perhaps lost its challenge, the expertly trimmed hedges. The inn was sheathed in white clapboards and shingles and sported a chimney that tilted slightly forward. The windows, unadorned, shone in the morning light. Like many houses built at the turn of the century, it had gables of differing widths and porches sprouting unconventionally at odd angles. The outline of the roof, Harrison thought, would be almost impossible to draw from memory.

Inside, the inn had a crisp edge that had been accomplished in part, Harrison thought, with a great deal of white paint and chrome. Much as he admired the inn, however, he wondered if visitors ever lamented the lost house, the one Carl Laski had inhabited.

"This used to be an inn. Years ago," Nora said. "After World War II, it became a private home. There's an early photograph. Behind you on the wall."

Harrison stood and leaned in toward the wall, balancing himself with his hand on the back of the couch. The photograph, framed in dark walnut, was remarkably detailed and clear, every blade of grass and twig made distinct with a kind of vision denied the naked eye. The picture was of a white shingled building with a cupola on its roof. It looked to be November or early March, to judge from the light dusting of snow that outlined the furrows of a garden. At the river's edge, there was a trail of mist, but he saw, on closer inspection, that it was really smoke from a moving train, the train itself a blur, merely a shadow.

"The photograph dates from 1912," Nora said. "It was made from a glass negative. There's a rose garden there. And a racetrack."

Harrison sat again on the couch and wondered if anyone else had arrived yet. He had wanted to be the first, to see Nora without the noise of the others. "It was an inn, then a house, and then an inn again?" he asked.

She smiled at his confusion. "When Carl and I moved here, it was a private house. We lived here for fifteen years. After he died ... after he died, I had the idea of reconverting it to an inn. It had always wanted to be an inn. Even when it was a house."

"How many rooms are there?"

"There used to be twenty-two."

"How did you manage?"

"We closed most of the rooms off. Would you like more coffee?"

"No thanks. I'm fine. Any of the others here yet?"

"Agnes said she'd be here by lunch. Bill and Bridget, too. Rob ... Rob won't be here until later."

"Rob's coming?" Harrison asked with pleasure. He hadn't seen Rob Zoar in ... well, in twenty-seven years. Harrison was startled by the number and recalculated. Yes, twenty-seven. "He's in Boston now, isn't he? I think I read that."

"He performs all over the world. He gets wonderful reviews."

"I was surprised to hear he was a pianist. He kept it quiet at Kidd, didn't he?"

"I think he tried to resist it."

"It seems like this wedding came together very fast," he said.

"It did."

Too fast for Harrison's wife, Evelyn, to rearrange her schedule. Bill had sent Harrison an e-mail saying that he and Bridget were getting married-at the inn-and he wanted Harrison and Evelyn to come. Harrison and Bill had for a time kept in touch (their families had gone skiing together twice), but Harrison had had no idea at all about Bill and Bridget.

"Bridget's sick," Nora added. "It's why Bill wants to do it now."

"How sick?" Harrison asked.

"Very," Nora said, her face tight. "Do you remember them together?"

"At school? Of course." Bill had been a muscular catcher, a consistent hitter with power who had routinely sent the baseball over the fence. Bridget, a serious girl, was pretty in a slightly plump way. In another era, she'd have been a beauty. The couple used to cross the campus so entwined it was as if they were one creature. Harrison recalled how disillusioned he had been when he'd heard that each had married someone else.

"How did they reconnect?" he asked now.

"Our twenty-fifth. Did you ever go to any of the reunions?"

He shook his head. He'd told himself that he hadn't gone for Evelyn's sake. She was Canadian, she wouldn't have known anyone, the journey would have consumed too many of her precious days off. But Harrison couldn't satisfactorily explain why he hadn't gone by himself. The simple answer, he supposed, was that he hadn't wanted to. The sight of the invitations had produced in him an anxiety he had no intention of exploring. Even this small reunion-this hasty wedding-had made him hesitate.

"You?" he asked.

Nora shook her head, and Harrison was not surprised. He could not imagine Carl Laski at a Kidd reunion.

"Have you seen any of the others?" Nora asked. "Since school, I mean?"

"Well, Bill," he said. "And I met Jerry in New York about five years ago. We had drinks."

"He's coming with his wife, Julie," Nora said. "What was it like, meeting Jerry?"

"He mostly wanted me to know how successful he'd become," Harrison said and then shrugged to take the edge off the unkind comment.

"You're staying until Sunday?" Nora asked.

"I think that's the plan."

Harrison had flown from Toronto to Hartford, rented a car, and driven to the Massachusetts Turnpike, which he had followed west. He'd realized, as he'd driven, that he'd never been to western Massachusetts. When he had visited New England before, it had always been to Boston and then straight on to Kidd in Maine. Never inland. He'd known of the Berkshires, of course. Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, was world famous. Edith Wharton had summered in Lenox. Melville had written Moby Dick in Pittsfield.

"There are some good walks," Nora said, gesturing toward the windows. "The weather ... the weather is amazing."

"It's been unseasonable in Toronto as well. Very mild."

"Each day has been more beautiful than the last," she said. "I think Nature means to mock us."

"How so?"

"9/11."

Harrison nodded slowly.

"All that horror. All that grief." She paused. "People ... people are stopping one another on the streets and saying, Can you imagine? and Isn't this extraordinary? and Enjoy it while you can."

"They say the temperature is breaking all records."

"I think it will reach seventy-two today," she said.

"Surely a record for the first week in December."

"I wonder ... I wonder if the idea is that the sins of man, more terrible than anyone's ability to imagine them, are nothing in the face of Nature's bounty and serenity," Nora said.

"Nature a supreme being?" Harrison asked, puzzled.

"Entity?"

"A terrible one at times."

"Not today."

"No, not today," Harrison said.

"Or ... or are we meant to be reminded of a reason to stay alive? To savor each day as if it might be the last?"

"Nature capable of grace?" Harrison asked. "I like that."

Nora laughed, reached forward, and touched him lightly at the tip of his knee. "Listen to us," she said. "We're so pretentious. We used to do this all the time in Mr. Mitchell's class, didn't we?"

"We did," he said, glad that she remembered, more gladdened by her sudden touch.

"It's great to see you," she said with seemingly genuine pleasure.

"Where were you when it happened?" he asked.

"Here. In the kitchen. I turned on the TV just before the second plane hit. Judy, my assistant-you're bound to meet her-came in and told me. What about you?"

"I was in Toronto," he said. "I was eating breakfast. I had a cup of coffee and the newspaper. On the television, the announcer's voice changed in pitch, and I looked up in time to see a plane hit the second tower."

The images of that day had played and replayed for hours, Canadian television more willing to air the most horrific images-those falling bodies-than American stations had been.

"Were you frightened?" he asked.

"Here? No. Not really. Upset. Very upset. But not frightened. I thought of Carl. I was glad he wasn't alive. To see it."

Nora began to nibble at the skin at the top of her index finger. Abruptly she stopped, putting her hands in her lap with a decisive gesture. From behind the shut door of the library, Harrison could hear a vacuum cleaner.

"They say it's the death of literature," she added.

"I think that's a little extreme," he said, shifting his position on the couch. In the days following the tragedy, he'd been greatly annoyed by such dramatic remarks. "I admired your husband's work very much," he added, feeling remiss that he hadn't mentioned this earlier.

"He ... he was a wonderful man," Nora said. "A wonderful poet and a wonderful man."

"Yes."

"I was the helpmeet," Nora said, surprising Harrison with the archaic word. "I've ... I've never understood what that means exactly. Helpmeet. Help. Meet."

"I'll look it up for you," he offered.

"I could do it myself. I must have a dictionary. Somewhere ..." She gazed at the spines of the books that lined the shelves.

For Harrison, the brilliance of Carl Laski's work lay in its oblique nature, the way the point of a poem was often a glancing blow: a glimpsed headline across the breakfast table while a woman tells her husband she has a lover, or a man berating his wife on a cell phone in an airport lounge as he passes a small child sitting alone with a bright red suitcase. Later it will be the memory of the child with the suitcase that will bring the man to his knees in his hotel room.

Harrison, of course, knew of Laski's reputation. The poet had won numerous international prizes, had been the recipient of honorary degrees, had been-when he'd died-professor emeritus at St. Martin's College, at which he had founded the celebrated St. Martin's Writers School and from which he had sent out into the world a disproportionate share of poets. Laski, Harrison had read, regarded the writing of poetry as man's highest calling and therefore worth the inevitable squandering of happy marriages and good health, to say nothing of sound finances. Largely due to his efforts, poetry had been enjoying something of a renaissance when he'd died, though one so mild as to barely register on the North American consciousness. Not one man in forty could today name a living poet, Harrison thought. Not one in a hundred could say who Carl Laski had been.

Harrison had also read the Roscoff biography, a book that purported to be literary but showed almost no interest in the work itself. Rather, Roscoff had focused on the more lurid aspects of Laski's life: his abusive father, his early drinking problem, his nearly obsessive womanizing while a professor at New York University, his disastrous first marriage, the loss of his sons in a bitter custody battle, and his subsequent self-imposed (and somewhat misanthropic) exile to the backwater college of St. Martin's in western Massachusetts. "Your husband should have won the Nobel Prize," Harrison said.

Nora laughed. "If he were here, he'd agree with you."

"Was it difficult for him, being passed up year after year?"

"It ... it was an event each time it was awarded. I mean that it would register. Like a small seismic shudder. He'd hear the news or read it in the newspaper, or someone would call and tell him, and his face, for just a moment, would cave in. Even as he was ranting about the winner or reading another part of the paper. The only time ... the only time he didn't mind personally was when Seamus Heaney won. He loved Seamus."

Harrison set down his cup. Laski had been thirty years older than Nora. The two had met when Nora was nineteen; Laski, forty-nine. "Was it ever an issue between you-the age difference?" he asked.

"Only that he had to die before me."

Harrison listened for a note of bitterness or grief.

"We always knew it would happen," she added.

Harrison nodded.

"We just didn't know it would be so awful. One night ... one night when it was really bad, Carl said, 'It's so easy.' I thought he meant the pain. That somehow the pain had eased up. But he meant dying. That he'd found an easy way to die."

Laski had filled his bathtub, plugged in the hair dryer, and let it drop. Harrison remembered precisely where he'd been when he learned the startling news. An editor Harrison had once worked with in Toronto had walked by his table in a New York City restaurant, bent down, and murmured, Have you heard about Carl Laski?

"A terrible end to a magnificent life," Harrison said now.

Nora was silent.

"The courage to do that," he added.

"Carl ... Carl would have said 'cowardice.'"

"He had throat cancer?"

"He kept saying that he could never have described the pain. Not even at the height of his powers. That it defied words."

"It's hard for the healthy to imagine pain like that."

"But what was truly horrible, Carl always said, was the knowing. Knowing he was going to die."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve Copyright © 2005 by Anita Shreve.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 80 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Lackluster

    This book took a lot for me to get into it. There was a story within a story, and it was just not a book that impressed me. It was a very ordinary tale, and some of the book really built up and up and up and then ran into a brick wall...not impressed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2010

    A trite romance

    This book was very disappointing. It is a rather trite romance about a group of prep school friends who come together for a midlife wedding of two schoolmates. The characters are rather pathetic - except for the out-of-the-closet gay guy. Everyone gets to have sex with their lost loves - and even the divorced groom has his estranged daughter attend the wedding. The best part of the book is the story within a story told by the spinster classmate - who is writing a book about a disaster in Halifax. I wish Shrieve had told that story instead. I find I really did not care for any of these people.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2007

    Don't bother!

    This was my first book by this author.....what a waste! Terrible! I finished the book thinking, What???? My friend tells me to read The Pilot's Wife, so maybe she gets better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    One of the most boring, poorly written books ever.

    One of the most boring, poorly written books ever.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Not one of her better books

    Story line was weak

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2011

    Another Good One from Anita Shreve

    Since I'm a big fan of Anita Shreve, this was another in a long line of easy reads.

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  • Posted January 16, 2011

    Loved this book!

    I love Anita Shreve and this book was excellent!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2010

    This is my 2nd Anita Shreve novel...

    This is my 2nd Anita Shreve novel...and I can't say I am overly thrilled....I leave feeling there are many questions unanswered and almost irritated. I feel the context is good but the ending poor!

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    basically a good story

    did not mind the story within the story (paralled agnes life)=
    not very exciting plot but good characters even if a little bland...a lot of hype leading up to a mediocre stephen story..
    plotted along = i did keep going back to book = even though i read another one inbetween...

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    Not this author's best work...

    This book dragged on until the end. If it had been my first Anita Shreve book, I wouldn't read any others.

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    Not Shreve's best effort

    I found this one boring and didn't finish reading it. Her books are normally very good! Try "Testimony" instead, also by Shreve - it was a total page-turner and very thought-provoking.

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  • Posted October 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A reflective book

    Roads not taken. Interesting characters. Reminded me of movies of late involving circle of friends intertwining and relationships. Good book.

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  • Posted October 10, 2009

    Not So Hot

    This was my first experience with Anita Shreve's work. I liked the way it was written and read but I did not feel that all of the main characters were completely developed. It is a nice fall read that you don't have to think too much about.

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  • Posted September 12, 2009

    Was not one of Anita Shreve's better books

    I honesty thought I was reading Nora Roberts.

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  • Posted March 19, 2009

    I Loved This Book!!

    I didn;t want to put this book down, and hated to see it end. I've become a huge fan of Ms. Shreve, and look forward to reading the rest of her books. I love her style of writing, and the emotion that gets captured by her is incredible, and hanting at the same time. I would recommend this book for many reasons.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    AN ATTENTION GRABBING NARRATION

    Weddings are supposed to be happy occasions, a time for looking to the future. Such is not the case in Anita Shreve's intricately plotted novel. The nuptial event in her story brings seven old friends together not to look forward but rather to remember the past, reflecting upon the choices they have made in their lives and dwelling upon secrets kept. Actually, there might have been eight friends gathered had it not been for the drowning death of Stephen Otis during their senior year. It has been some twenty years since that tragic event but it continues to haunt Harrison who was Stephen's roommate at Kidd Academy. Once attracted to Nora, Harrison finds that even after all this time she can still cast a spell on him. But, who wouldn't be attracted to Nora? She was the class beauty who married an established poet, Carl, a man who left his wife for her. One would think she might have led a charmed life but not so. It turned out that Carl was demanding, self-centered. We hear: ''When a man leaves his wife and children for another woman, there's a burden on that woman. She has to be worth the sacrifice.... No one is worth that kind of sacrifice.' Now a widow Nora has turned her Massachusetts home into an inn where the wedding of Bridget and Bill will take place. The two of them were young lovers but parted ways. Bill recently divorced his wife to be with Bridget who is suffering from cancer. The group is rounded out with unmarried Agnes who teaches at Kidd Academy, and has long been involved with a married man a concert pianist, Rob, and his partner and an unpleasant man accompanied by an almost equally unpleasant wife. Anita Shreve has crafted an intriguing tale about the choices we make and how they impact our lives for better or worse. Neither heroes nor heroines emerge but rather very human people, warts and all. For this listener, a few of those warts did not elicit understanding or sympathy. 'A Wedding In December' as read by Linda Emonds is pleasant listening. She's an actress who holds attention with her narration and easily conveys joy or pathos not only with words but also voice and intonation. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2006

    Loved it!

    This was the first book I have read from this author and now I'm looking for more of her books. I couldn't stop reading it once I started. What a great book! At first I was irritated with the Innes story within a story, but then I couldn't get enough. I would definitely recommed! Mis- thanks for sending to me!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2006

    Character's Lack any Moral Character

    I enjoy many of this author's books, but this one was not one of them. This author seems to have a very negative view of marriage. Out of the 7 plus characters in this book only the two gay men were not involved in either cheating on their spouse, being cheated on, or with someone who was cheating on their spouse. While there were some interesting insights and her writing can be good I was so disgusted by the characters I did not enjoy the book at all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2006

    Sad--Somewhat Dark

    I'm always glad that I read a book, but some books are more peaceful than others The characters in this book are so full of angst that I was happy to reach the last page. On the upside, it's a great book to read and rush down to Starbucks to have a great coffee and appreciate the evening stars and wonder of being alive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2006

    OK

    I read 'The Last Time They Met' and wanted to read more of this author's books. I was hoping that like the last one this would pick up and become more interesting. It didn't. A bunch of self-absorbed adults who can't get past their high school years. The only one who seemed even remotely happy was Rob. Good for him! I wish Shreve would write an entire novel on Innes, Hazel and Louise. Their story was much more interesting.....

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