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A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve

A Wedding in December (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Anita Shreve

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1,921None3,551 (3.07)54
Title:A Wedding in December
Authors:Anita Shreve
Info:Back Bay Books (2006), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:Read, Read Prior to 2010

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A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve (2005)

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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Although A Wedding in December takes place over a weekend, Shreve gives us enough backstory of our characters that allows us to know each of them intimately. The classmates are reuniting at a beautiful inn in the Berkshire Mountains to share in a wedding celebration.

Our main characters were the best of friends during school, Bridget and Bill were even lovers, but none of their relationships would survive the real world. As the weekend unfolds, the characters reminisce about the past as they embrace their rekindled friendships. A few have stayed in touch over the years, but most left that world behind, locking away the memories and the secrets. As they discuss events of the past we learn what happened long ago sending these good friends in opposite directions.

One of the characters of the story is working on a novel that takes place during the Halifax explosion. Throughout the story bits of the Halifax novel are brought to life for us. Personally, I did not care for this part of the book. It seemed to take something away from the real story for me as sometimes whole chapters were made up of the Halifax event. Since this was a new piece of history to me, I did find it interesting, I just didn't care for it being a part of this book.

The wedding takes place under tragic circumstances, giving everyone a new appreciation for each other. Both friendships and romances are rekindled as the friends join for the celebration. Except for the novel within the novel, I appreciated how everyone's story was shared.

I enjoyed this novel with themes of love, regrets, and secrets. We did read this as a book club selection in December hoping it would have a Christmas element to it, but that was not the case. Although my book group wasn't overly impressed with this pick, I have to say that it did make for an interesting discussion. I recommend this book for personal leisure or as a book club selection. ( )
  jo-jo | Mar 22, 2014 |
Not above average-- it's one of those books that passes the time, and that's all.

The worst thing that I can say about it, is that it's that other side of 'wedding'-- not so much young or youngish people in love, but old people reminiscing, dully, and quite often pretentiously. 'No-one today can name a living poet' and all that sounds positively avuncular, I don't know how else to say it. Also the references to current events only make the text seem to have aged rapidly, if you know what I mean. It ends up being more like 'Holiday Family Reunion' than what it's title claims it to be, if that makes sense. There's certainly not much like the cover-- the husband whispering to his smiling bride, seems to be more or less absent.

But I'm pretty lenient, I think, in all my reviews and (especially) ratings, and I think that domestic fiction often gets far more digs than it deserves. So, if you accept the rather prosaic nature of the work, then I suppose that you'll find that the prose is competent, and it's a pretty long thing that can give you so many hours of diversion. For the record, that's also often the case with non-fiction (e.g. a Mark Lewisohn book I'm reading), and, although this is an excuse, it's not the only sort of thing which isn't as romantic as it pretends to be or could be, or whatever. (Again, e.g., Lewisohn writing about the Beatles is far from romantic.)

And, then again, I suppose that in a descriptive sense, this is what our families are or tend to be like-- reminiscing, dull, unromantic, pretentious, etc. (Sorry, but.) Poets and musicians can pull the threads of love out of the trippy void, but not all prose writers can follow them.

At any rate, I try to be even-handed with the average, since it could be worse.


There's just something flawed about the book that's hard to put into words.

All sorts of criticism can be leveled at comparing two books, but here goes:

"The Wedding" by Sparks is much better than "A Wedding in December" by Shreve. The thing is that Sparks is much more sensitive, and authentic, really, (although I might annoy some people, who cares)-- Shreve just casually drops in references to 'All Quiet on the Western Front'-- trench warfare? at a wedding? really?-- and various catastrophes that the learnéd monks know all about..... it just does absolutely nothing to cultivate the right atmosphere. It's a title (and a cover) to lure you in with promises of romance, but then once it has you, it's just a bunch of pompous old bees.... and that's what the author sympathizes with. I mention the Sparks book because it's not just about it being about old love, or married love, instead of young-- it's simply a matter of not really giving a hoot. (As you can tell by the comparison, I mean.)

It's like a little boy with his mom.

Halifax Explosion! Weeee! [Led Zeppelin!]

Not at the wedding, dear.

..... I'm not sure why I didn't take more points off, but whatever.


N. B. -- And it's one thing if it's *familial* grief, (Sparks does that-- it happens), but if it's just-- Uncle George Wants To Talk About The Halifax Explosion, because he's an old bee, then that's something else, especially when the author is standing off to the side clapping, willing the wrong to happen. [Although on the other hand, it's not as unromantic as Anne Sexton, haha!] ( )
  fearless2012 | Dec 18, 2013 |
3.5 stars.

Bill and Bridget were high school sweethearts, but split up before they got married. 20-some years later, they found each other again, and 27 years after graduating from high school, with Bridget going through chemotherapy and not sure about the prognosis, they are gathering some of their high school friends together to witness their wedding. It's a weekend reunion where secrets are spilled and the discussion often steers away from more difficult subjects like their friend Stephen, who just disappeared into the ocean while drunk way back when, and his body washed up on shore a week later.

It was told from a few different viewpoints: Recently widowed, Nora (Stephen's girlfriend in high school), who runs the small inn where the wedding it being held; Harrison, Stephen's best friend and roommate in high school; Agnes, who now teaches at their old school.

It was good. There were tangents I wasn't interested in, like the story Agnes was writing. I could have done without that entirely. At the start, the writing seemed a bit stilted or something. I'm not sure what it was, but the dialogue just didn't seem natural. After a bit, I guess I got used to it, as it didn't bother me later in the book. ( )
  LibraryCin | Apr 20, 2013 |
A group of high school friends meet again 27 years later at the wedding of two of them. Over the weekend, it is revealed that everyone is hiding something of their past. A really good book. Quite sad as the bride, battling cancer faces her future. The others also have sadness and regrets. ( )
  dalzan | Apr 18, 2013 |
From November 2005 School Library Journal:
A Wedding in December carries many of Shreve’s hallmarks: simple and elegant prose; characters who are entirely convincing in their portrayals of human fallibility; and a plot buildup with a twist toward the end that packs a wallop.
Set in New England several months after the September 11 attacks, this is the story of seven former classmates who have not seen each other in twenty-seven years, but who have come together for a wedding. Bill and Bridget, who dated during high school and then went their separate ways, have reunited and are getting married in the face of Bridget’s advanced breast cancer. Nora, who owns the inn where the wedding will be held, is trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. Harrison believes himself to be content with the life he has made in Toronto with his wife and two sons… until he sees Nora again. Agnes, Nora’s old roommate, has a secret she is desperate to share with the others. Jerry gives every appearance of outward success, but is helpless to prevent the façade from crumbling over the weekend. And over all of them hangs the specter of Stephen, Harrison’s old roommate whose charismatic life and tragic death they all allude to but seem unable to address head-on.
Paralleling the story of these friends, Agnes is writing a novel about the Halifax explosion of 1917, a little-known disaster that resulted in the deaths of almost 2000 citizens of the Nova Scotia community when two ships collided in the harbor. This story-within-a-story not only provides an eye-opening account of a piece of World War I history, but allows Agnes to address some of her own issues through her characters.
Shreve’s novels are consistently understated and graceful explorations of the choices we make in our day to day interactions with each other and the consequences of those choices. A Wedding in December is an excellent piece of American literature to add to any high school library.

( )
  KimJD | Apr 8, 2013 |
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for my father
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"The glaciers are receding," she said.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316154512, Paperback)

At an inn in the Berkshire Mountains, seven former schoolmates gather to celebrate a wedding--a reunion that becomes the occasion of astonishing revelations as the friends collectively recall a long-ago night that indelibly marked each of their lives. Written with the fluent narrative artistry that distinguishes all of Anita Shreve's bestselling novels, A Wedding in December acutely probes the mysteries of the human heart and the endless allure of paths not taken.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:53 -0400)

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A group of former schoolmates from Maine's Kidd Academy gather in the Berkshires for the a wedding of fellow classmates Bill and Bridget.

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