Thursday, June 18, 2009
Book Report Thursday
On my most recent trip home, I happened across A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve in my Mom's library. I have read other books by Shreve and have found them to be entertaining and fairly good, so I thought I'd check this one out. The story is broken up into a weekend, with sections for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The novel takes place in a small inn in the Bershires run by a woman named Nora. The wedding is for Bridget and Bill, high school sweethearts who met again after many years apart and decided to get married. The people invited to the wedding are all old high school classmates who knew the couple "way back when" - surprisingly, there are few family members invited to the wedding (that wouldn't make a good story, right?). The novel follows several characters, including Bridget, Agnes, now a teacher at the high school they all attended, Harrison, a publicist, married with two kids, and Nora, the owner of the inn. All of the characters have some sort of unrequited angst or unfinished business from high school. We catch up to these people as they are in their late 40s, seeing what they've done with their lives and where their lives are headed. All of the characters experienced a tragedy during high school, and many have not seen one another since graduation (again, bizarre group of people to invite to your wedding, right?). And many of the scenarios described in the book are overly dramatic or exaggerated. Por ejemplo, I understand having had a crush in high school, but let me tell you, I am way over that by now (and I am not in my late 40s). Seeing my crush might bring back pleasant memories, but it certainly would not lead me to sleep with the person and consequently cheat on my spouse. All of the characters have flashbacks to the days of their youth, attempting to illustrate how far they have come or how many obstacles they have overcome. But, realistically, since the book is not about them in high school, it's hard to match the teenaged character with the characters in the book. And, ultimately, it's really sad. A teenager with lots of potential stuck in a dead end job, never married and unhappy (and, realistically, such a boring character that the author has her write a "short story" as part of her character sketch). I liked this book, and I found the writing pleasant, descriptive and interesting. I guess I just have a problem with people who complain about their situations or their lives without doing anything about it. They just kind of sit in their sorrow and sadness and just live in it instead of trying to do something to change it. I hate that. It drives me bananas. It also bothered me that the female character fighting off cancer had to always wear her wig and just kind of accepted that she would die from this disease, instead of doing everthing possible to fight it. Shreve's characters are definitely flawed, as we all are, and perhaps that's what I didn't like about the book. However, it obviously made me think (and, realistically, I had no idea this post would turn out so negative!). And I found myself drawn to the book, wanting to know what happen to the characters. Even now, some of the scenery comes to mind, pleasant and interesting. I guess, overall, I would say this book is like watching a movie where you're not entirely invested in the characters, but it's interesting to watch it play out. Oh, and some of the most interesting characters are merely supporting cast or characters that die off, unfortunatley. Perfect summer reading for me.