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Posts Tagged ‘Anita Shreve

A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve, Little, Brown and Company, 2005, 325 pp.

Wedding in DecemberAs we prepare to move,  it has been overwhelmingly busy. My normal brisk pace of reading has suffered, but I needed to get lost in a book just to escape. I also needed to read through some books that I want to read but not pack. This one has been on my shelf for a long time, but never caught my fancy. It was too light, too simple–until now. It was just the breezy read I needed.

The story takes place at an inn in western Massachusetts, where a group of high school friends have gathered for a wedding reunion more than 25 years after graduation. Two of the classmates, Bridget and Bill, had been high school sweethearts who broke up suddenly in college when Bill met (and eventually married) someone else. They have gotten back together, and the classmates are celebrating their wedding. It is their first reunion since graduation, which was marred by the tragic death of Stephen Otis, one of their circle. They carry the guilt and grief of that day into their adulthood.

Nora, Stephen’s girlfriend, owns the inn, having made her life as the wife and helpmeet of a famous poet before his death and her new life on her own as an innkeeper. Harrison, Stephen’s roommate and best friend, was in love with Nora, but is now married with a family of his own. Jerry, the loud one, brings a younger wife and conspicuous displays of wealth. Agnes, the quiet one, has been carrying on a secret affair for years.

The story unfolds the unfinished business between the various classmates, both in their relationships with one another and their guilt over not having been able to save Stephen. It wasn’t a great story, but it was a good one. The writing is lovely and understated. The characters and story will not be seared into my memory, but I enjoyed journeying with them for awhile.

A Wedding in December is a striking portrait of middle age, an era I find myself entering as well. In preparation for our move, I am revisiting old things from high school, notes and letters from my younger self. Through the power of Facebook, I am able to reconnect with some of those old friends and tend to some unfinished business. Much like the characters in the novel, we are able to move beyond our 17 year old versions of ourselves and see one another as fully-formed adults. Again like the story, sometimes this lifts old regrets, eases old tensions and heals old wounds. Other times, it opens new dimensions and reveals that we are forever locked into the choices we made a long time ago.

I was finally ready to appreciate A Wedding in December at the time I read it. Perhaps you will be too.

 

 

The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve, Little, Brown and Company, 1998, 293 pp.

I was hooked on this novel from the first few pages.

The story is about the aftermath of a plane crash, and it begins with a knock on the door in the middle of the night, awakening the pilot’s wife with the news. The novel follows the wife’s story of grief and healing as the strange details of her husband’s hidden life emerge after his death.

Kathryn, the pilot’s wife, is the center of the story, and it’s her perspective that we see throughout. I found her to be immediately likable as a character. As a reader, I did not share her grief and heartache, but I wanted to be her friend, to walk her through the situation and be by her side when she needed it. Even as the revelations about her husband’s secrets began to emerge, Kathryn showed a great sense of strength and resolve. She overcame multiple betrayals and even at the lowest points she always held her own. I was cheering for her the whole time.

This was well written, an engaging story with characters that I loved and believed in. It’s not a prize-winning piece of fine literature, but it was a great novel for pleasure reading. I didn’t plan to read a novel this week, but once I read the opening pages I couldn’t stop. You’ll be hooked too, and you’ll enjoy the whole ride.


About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

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