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.