Today’s book review, of a contemporary women’s novel, is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve
Synopsis: At an inn in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, seven former schoolmates gather for a wedding. Nora, the owner of the inn, has recently had to reinvent her life following the death of her husband. Avery, who still hears echoes from a horrific event at Kidd Academy twenty-six years ago, has made a life for himself in Toronto with his wife and two sons. Agnes, now a history teacher at Kidd is a woman who longs to tell a secret she cannot reveal to the others, a secret that would stun them all. Bridget, the mother of a fifteen-year-old boy, has agreed to marry Bill, an old high school lover whom she has recently re-met, despite uncertainties about her health and future. Indeed, it is Bill who passionately wants this wedding and who has brought everyone together for an astonishing weekend of revelation and recrimination, forgiveness and redemption.
This novel is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wedding-In-December-Anita-Shreve-ebook/dp/product-description/B00OZN4DHE and http://www.amazon.com/Wedding-In-December-Anita-Shreve-ebook/dp/product-description/B00OZN4DHE.
Review (of the audiobook, narrated by Liza Ross)
The novel starts at the inn and we have most of the characters present already and they’re reminiscing about their school days then more recent times including 9/11.
The story then switches (still in third-person point of view) to another character, former-schoolmate-now-teacher Agnes, and 9/11 and other disasters are mentioned (by the narrator) again. Agnes is in the process of writing a novel and there are several extracts in this story, some of which involve one of the disasters. It’s very descriptive but seems to have little relevance to this novel.
Next, the narrator talks to us via Harrison’s point of view and he reminisces of how he first met Nora, a then-new student and who was dating a fellow student whom Harrison admitted his jealousy over.
The death of one of their former fellow students, Stephen, is brought up a couple of times which I guessed would be explained (it was later).
As the guests gather for the wedding, the last few to arrive include the bride and groom, accompanied by her fifteen-year-old son and his friend, and the rest of the novel is about the relationships between the attendees and them leaving the inn, some changed by their time spent there.
There are occasional endearing phrases e.g. ‘and on his face, Rob saw a moving picture of emotions: disbelief, joy and pride’ and some not so lovely including a couple about accidental bodily functions.
Sometimes the downside of audiobooks is the narrator and, on occasion, accompanying music. While the music on its own would have been OK (especially the intro because I recognised it and loved it), but here it was mostly distracting, and Miss Ross’ varying voices didn’t all work, especially the male ones, possibly because her natural voice is high.
There seemed to be more about Agnes’ story than the original (real life) plot and neither felt they were going anywhere. Had this been a paperback – and therefore only readable on its own – I would have stopped partway. I kept going because I wanted to know what really happened to Stephen, assuming that to be the resolution of the novel. It wasn’t and the one that came was quite ordinary.
This novel is for fans of stories that are 90% character / description, 10% plot / dialogue. Not for me.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
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If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.