I should know by now that choosing a book because it’s cover is cute and pastel and featuring two lobsters in love is not reason enough. And yet, those were my main motivations in reading Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead. Halfway through reading this book I stopped and asked myself if I was failing as a reader—perhaps it was a satire and not meant to be read with an earnest eye. It wasn’t until the last sentence that I felt safe in saying that there was definitely some attempted criticism of the East Coast WASP contingent, but it needed to more firmly pick a lane.
The book spent far too little time on the interesting and sympathetic characters—Daphne, Dominique, Biddy—and instead focused on Winn, the stale patriarch of the family, with short interspersed passages from the point of view of other self-absorbed and detestable characters. I also could not get past the character names. I know it is a running joke that waspy types go by odd nicknames but in a group of twenty people how probable is it to find a Biddy, Fee, Dicky Jr., Fenn, Winn, Teddy, Tipton, Greyson, Sterling, Oatsie, and Mopsy?
I’d recommend passing on this one and instead picking up Gone Girl, Prep, or The Paris Wife if you need a light but still substantive read.