Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve

A Wedding in December : A Novel I just proved that my reading taste has changed for the better. Many years ago I tried to read an Anita Shreve novel and couldn't finish it. Even though it's been so long ago that I don't remember which book it was, I do recall thinking it was awful because nothing happened. The protagonist just thought and thought and thought, and I was totally bored with her thoughts.

Other bloggers whose opinions I trust have been posting good reviews of Shreve lately though, and I decided I should try her again. I must be missing something. Sure enough, I was missing something. Now that I'm more mature (read old), I'm more patient with character development and books like A Wedding in December where nearly all the action takes place in people's memories of the past.

Several people are reunited after 27 years for the wedding of two friends. They had all been classmates at a private prep school and one of the group of friends had died not long before graduation. He was sort of the catalyst around which all the others had melded into a solid group and without him, they all went their separate ways after graduation. There is a mystery about the boy's death that haunts them all and it creates an underlying tension throughout the wedding celebration.

The bride, it turns out, has cancer which appears to be terminal. She is marrying the man she had loved in school. He had broken up with her then and they had both married someone else. Now they are together again and want to celebrate that fact with their friends from long ago.

One of the friends is writing a novel based on a real tragedy that happened in Halifax, Nova Scotia during World War I. Since I had known about this event from a vacation there, this was an interesting side story for me. She, it turns out, also has something she has been hiding, but is bursting to disclose.

This book was published in 2005 but it is a timeless story of love, loss, guilt, and people's expectations of their friends. In short, I have become an Anita Shreve fan. I did enjoy her writing, the plotlines, and her characters. I recommend her for others who may not have realized she had something to tell them before.


  1. I only read one book by Shreve (Testimony) but I sort of hated it, so I haven't gone on to any others!

  2. I think I could read it except for the fact the bride is dying. Why did she have to include that? I've read two by AS, and liked them both - Light on Snow and The Weight of Water (which is also a movie). Great review.

  3. I only own one Anita Shreve book and I've tried reading it off and on and can't quite get involved with it. But if you are now a new convert, maybe I should try harder.

  4. I must admit, I'm not particularly fond of books where all the characters do is think! I haven't read anything by Shreve yet, although I do remember thinking about adding Testimony to my TBR.

  5. I've read only one book of Shreve's - Testimony, which I thought was great and made me a Shreve fan. (One woman's garbage..., Rhapsody)

    If this one includes mention of the Halifax Explosion, even as a side plot, I'm going to be sure to pick it up. Thanks for the tip, Barbara!

  6. I like this book but it was not one of my favorites (having read all of her books). I LOVED: Strange Fits of Passion, Eden Close and Resistance - all earlier books.

  7. A great point about tastes. I am not nearly as afraid of stories without action as I was, either. Character development matters a lot, though.

  8. I've only read a few of Shreve's book and have enjoyed all of them. I think The Pilot's Wife was my favorite. I think I have this one in my TBR.

  9. Thanks for commenting everyone. I had been away for a couple days so hadn't replied.

    Debbie, I'm fascinated by the story of the Halifax Explosion. Bought a book about in Halifax just like the character in this novel did.

    Nan, Actually the fact that the bride is dying is invaluable to the story. It's sad, but the novel is wonderful.

    Margot and Jill, I think this is one of those authors that you either love or hate, unless like me you mature and your tastes change. Then perhaps, or not, so will your opinion of her books.

    Belle, I think you would like the fact that one of the major characters is writing a book during her stay at the inn. There is a lot in this side story that would interest you.

    Diane and Kathy, I'm going to be reading more of her books and maybe I'll like them even more.

    Dorte, It took me forever to become an adult, with adult tastes and emotions (I think I was in my early 30s!) so books I read in my 20s were pretty forgettable for the most part. I think our world widens with each book read, each trip taken, each experience so that we do become more discriminating readers and our reading list shows that change.