The Van Meters have gathered at their family retreat on the island of Waskeke to celebrate the marriage of daughter Daphne to the impeccably appropriate Greyson Duff. The weekend is full of champagne, salt air and practiced bonhomie, but long-buried discontent and simmering lust stir beneath the surface.
Winn Van Meter, father of the bride, is not having a good time. Barred from the exclusive social club he’s been eyeing since birth, he’s also tormented by an inappropriate crush on Daphne’s beguiling bridesmaid, Agatha, and the fear that his daughter, Livia—recently heartbroken by the son of his greatest rival—is a too-ready target for the wiles of Greyson’s best man. When old resentments, a beached whale and an escaped lobster are added to the mix, the wedding that should have gone off with military precision threatens to become a spectacle of misbehavior.
Vibrant prose and moments of keen insight lighten an otherwise lackluster debut in this comedy of manners set during the days preceding a wedding. Daphne Van Meter is getting married at her family's New England summerhouse, her advanced pregnancy a blight on the festivities for the older WASP set. Her father, Winn, feeling increasingly irrelevant at work and in the eyes of his family, toys with the idea of adultery, though his real passion is gaining admittance to Waskeke island's exclusive golf club. Daphne's younger sister Livia, unable to recover from her recent abortion and breakup, makes halfhearted attempts to find a rebound interest as the weekend progresses. Also on the scene is Biddy, Winn's solid if unspectacular wife (she falls asleep during sex and only wants Winn to be discreet if he cheats). The characters are either bland or unsympathetic, and with little plot, the book lacks energy. Readers looking for a thoughtful beach read may find moments of distraction in Shipstead's linguistic dexterity, but the glacial pace and dull characters will likely put them to sleep.
Customer ReviewsSee All
So many characters with much written about the turmoil in their lives. It was like reading a soap opera. Then it ends. Some critics believe this author is brilliant, but I am glad I didn't pay full price.
I wanted to like the book, but in so many ways it fell flat. There were sections that went on forever and I got bored. I skipped over a lot of unnecessary dialogue that really never got to the heart of what the characters were about. The author tried to focus on too many characters which made it confusing and diluted the importance of everyone except Winn, who was truly a pathetic man.
The character development was way too extensive, to the point of being boring. NOT a page turner, more of a plodding plot.