Amy Cavanaugh, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Amy Cavanaugh)
A hilarious, bittersweet critique of contemporary marriage. It's precisely what I could imagine Jane Austen writing if she were presented with the current state of marital affairs.
Knopf Publishing Group -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"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. Agent: Rebecca Gradinger, Fletcher & Company. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From a best-selling writer, a story of unexpected friendship—three women thrown together in college who grow to adulthood united and divided by secrets, lies, and a single night that shaped all of them.
From a bestselling writer, a story of unexpected friendship—three women thrown together in college who grow to adulthood united and divided by secrets, lies, and a single night that shaped all of them
When UC Santa Cruz roommates Anna and Kate find passed-out Georgiana Leoni on a lawn one night, they wheel her to their dorm in a shopping cart. Twenty years later, they gather around a campfire on the lawn of a New England mansion. What happens in between—the web of wild adventures, unspoken jealousies, and sudden tragedies that alter the course of their lives—is charted with sharp wit and aching sadness in this meticulously constructed novel.
Anna, the de facto leader, is fearless and restless—moving fast to stay one step ahead of her demons. Quirky, contemplative Kate is a natural sidekick but a terrible wingman (“If you go home with him, might I suggest breathing through your mouth”). And then there’s George: the most desired woman in any room, and the one most likely to leave with the worst man.
Shot through with the crackling dialogue, irresistible characters, and propulsive narrative drive that make Lutz’s books so beloved, How to Start a Fire pulls us deep into Anna, Kate, and George’s complicated bond and pays homage to the abiding, irrational love we share with the family we choose.
Maggie Shipstead’s irresistible social satire, set on an exclusive New England island over a wedding weekend in June, provides a deliciously biting glimpse into the lives of the well-bred and ill-behaved.
Winn Van Meter is heading for his family’s retreat on the pristine New England island of Waskeke. Normally a haven of calm, for the next three days this sanctuary will be overrun by tipsy revelers as Winn prepares for the marriage of his daughter Daphne to the affable young scion Greyson Duff. Winn’s wife, Biddy, has planned the wedding with military precision, but arrangements are sideswept by a storm of salacious misbehavior and intractable lust: Daphne’s sister, Livia, who has recently had her heart broken by Teddy Fenn, the son of her father’s oldest rival, is an eager target for the seductive wiles of Greyson’s best man; Winn, instead of reveling in his patriarchal duties, is tormented by his long-standing crush on Daphne’s beguiling bridesmaid Agatha; and the bride and groom find themselves presiding over a spectacle of misplaced desire, marital infidelity, and monumental loss of faith in the rituals of American life.
Hilarious, keenly intelligent, and commandingly well written, Shipstead’s deceptively frothy first novel is a piercing rumination on desire, on love and its obligations, and on the dangers of leading an inauthentic life, heralding the debut of an exciting new literary voice.
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