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A Wedding in December Paperback – May 2, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (May 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316154512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316154512
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,436,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

ABig Chill–like group reunites for a 40-something wedding in this melancholy story of missed opportunities, lingering regrets and imagined alternatives by Shreve (The Last Time They Met). Bill and Bridget were sweethearts at Maine's Kidd Academy who rediscovered one another at their 25th reunion. Bridget was already divorced; Bill left his family; the two have now gathered their Kidd coterie to witness their hasty wedding—Bridget has breast cancer—at widow Nora's western Massachusetts inn. The death of charismatic schoolmate Stephen at a drunken high school party hovers over the event. Stephen's then-roommate, Harrison, now a married literary publisher, remains particularly tormented by it, especially since he had (and still has) romantic feelings for Nora, who was Stephen's then-girlfriend. Abrasive Wall Street businessman Jerry, now-out-of-the-closet pianist Rob, single Agnes (who teaches at Kidd and has a secret of her own) and various children round things out. Tensions build as the group gets snowed in, and someone gets drunk enough to say what everyone's been thinking. Though Shreve's plot, characters and dialogue are predictable (as are her inevitable 9/11 rehashes), she sure-handedly steers everyone through their inward dramas, and the actions they take (and don't) are Hollywood satisfying. (Oct. 10)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–This novel has 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 9/11, it is the story of seven former classmates who have not seen one another in 27 years but have come together for the wedding of Bill and Bridget, who dated during high school and then went their separate ways. They 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. Agnes, Nora's former roommate, has a secret she is desperate to share. Over all of them hangs the specter of Stephen, whose charismatic life and tragic death they seem unable to address head-on. Paralleling the story of these friends is the one in the novel Agnes is writing about the Halifax explosion of 1917, a little-known disaster that resulted in the deaths of almost 2000 citizens. This story-within-a-story not only provides an eye-opening account of a piece of World War I history, but also allows Agnes to address some of her own issues. An understated and graceful exploration of the choices that people make in their day-to-day interactions and their consequences, Wedding is an excellent piece of American literature to add to any library.–Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Anita Shreve grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts (just outside Boston), the eldest of three daughters. Early literary influences include having read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton when she was a junior in high school (a short novel she still claims as one of her favorites) and everything Eugene O'Neill ever wrote while she was a senior (to which she attributes a somewhat dark streak in her own work). After graduating from Tufts University, she taught high school for a number of years in and around Boston. In the middle of her last year, she quit (something that, as a parent, she finds appalling now) to start writing. "I had this panicky sensation that it was now or never."

Joking that she could wallpaper her bathroom with rejections from magazines for her short stories ("I really could have," she says), she published her early work in literary journals. One of these stories, "Past the Island, Drifting," won an O. Henry prize. Despite this accolade, she quickly learned that one couldn't make a living writing short fiction. Switching to journalism, Shreve traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, where she lived for three years, working as a journalist for an African magazine. One of her novels, The Last Time They Met, contains bits and pieces from her time in Africa.

Returning to the United States, Shreve was a writer and editor for a number of magazines in New York. Later, when she began her family, she turned to freelancing, publishing in the New York Times Magazine, New York magazine and dozens of others. In 1989, she published her first novel, Eden Close. Since then she has written 14 other novels, among them The Weight of Water, The Pilot's Wife, The Last Time They Met, A Wedding in December, Body Surfing, Testimony,and A Change in Altitude.

In 1998, Shreve received the PEN/L. L. Winship Award and the New England Book Award for fiction. In 1999, she received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey, and The Pilot's Wife became the 25th selection of Oprah's Book Club and an international bestseller. In April 2002, CBS aired the film version of The Pilot's Wife, starring Christine Lahti, and in fall 2002, The Weight of Water, starring Elizabeth Hurley and Sean Penn, was released in movie theaters.

Still in love with the novel form, Shreve writes only in that genre. "The best analogy I can give to describe writing for me is daydreaming," she says. "A certain amount of craft is brought to bear, but the experience feels very dreamlike."

Shreve is married to a man she met when she was 13. She has two children and three stepchildren, and in the last eight years has made tuition payments to seven colleges and universities.

Customer Reviews

This book was so boring and I had a hard time just finishing it.
Cheri G.
There were just too many possibilities...to many directions it could go, and books that end like that frustrate me, even if the characters are well developed.
C. Cunningham
They have reunited and are getting married even though Bridget's advanced breast cancer is something they cannot control.
Guillermo Amaro

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Jana L. Perskie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When Anita Shreve is good, she's very, very good, and when she's not good, she is boring. A few of my friends have really enjoyed this novel, and I value their opinions, so perhaps I am in the minority when I say I found "A Wedding in December" to be, at best, a ho-hum read filled with tired metaphors. Set in a post 9/11 America with the Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts as a backdrop, seven former classmates, all graduates of Maine's preppy Kidd Academy, reunite for a weekend. The occasion is an intimate wedding hosted by Nora, one of the original group members, who owns a quaint bed and breakfast. Bill and Bridget, the honored couple, were sweethearts thirty years before but married other people. Now they hope for a second shot at happiness, (against some serious odds), and want to share this special time with those who knew them when they were in the throes of first love. The group had once been extremely close but, with one or two exceptions, most have not seen each other since high school graduation. There is much unfinished business to be raked-up, adding juice to the plot, including sharp memories of a foreseen tragedy and, consequently, lots of guilt shared by all.

Predictably, there is an abundance of reminiscing, fantasizing and reexamining of lives and goals as the characters discuss past and present and make some interesting discoveries. An emphasis is placed on tragedy - both 9/11 and a devastating disaster which occurred in Halifax Nova Scotia during WWI are brought into play frequently, as is a disaster of another kind, a catastrophic illness. Adultery also plays a big enough role that it might as well have been a character. Ms. Shreve shines no new light on an old theme, however.
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61 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Antoinette Klein on October 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When graduates of an elite prep school gather for the first time since graduation twenty-seven years previously, old secrets are revealed and passions long buried ignite. Facing the mid-life crises that plague so many, members of the class question their choices in relationships and ponder the proverbial road not taken.

The occasion that brings this once tightly knit group together is the wedding of two of its members. Bridget and Bill were high school sweethearts, but he found another love in college and jilted her. A meeting at their 25th high school reunion led to rekindled romance and he has now left his wife and daughter to be with Bridget and her 15-year old son. The wedding is urgent since Bridget has terminal breast cancer. Determined to make Bridget's last years perfect, Bill arranges a wedding with the help of fellow classmate Nora.

Nora owns a New England inn that was once the home she shared with her famous husband, a renowned poet. Now a widow, Nora is the perfect hostess arranging the details of the wedding and visiting with her former classmates, especially Harrison.

Harrison has entered the publishing world in Toronto, but marriage and two boys he adores have not extinguished the flame that still burns in his heart for Nora. Immediately attracted to her when they were both seventeen, he didn't act quickly enough and she soon became the girlfriend of his best friend Stephen.

It is the absence of Stephen and the mystery surrounding his tragic death just weeks before graduation that hovers over this group and explains why friends once so close have been estranged for more than two decades.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By MJS on April 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Like a number of authors Anita Shreve writes in the shadow of previous, highly successful novel. It's difficult to read and review this novel to without making comparisons to "The Pilot's Wife." To get the issue out of the way, the comparison is not a good one - A Wedding in December is a weaker novel on every front. The painfully stilted first line illustrates the primary weakness. Human beings simply do not speak the dialogue Shreve cooks up. Whether they're baring their souls or discussing the weather the characters use words and phrases straight out of a writing workshop which tends to grind the narrative to a halt whenever "the glaciers are receding" rears its head.

Next we have the characters. The two leads, Harrison and Nora, are remarkably unlikably characters. It seems that Shreve intended them to be likable but two more self-aborbed, selfish, chilly and judgemental characters would be difficult to imagine. Nora is presented as a paragon of virtue and desirability although the only support given for this are endless descriptions of her interior decorating and catering skills. Instead what we see of Nora lends itself more to a control-freak of the manipulative sort, her "tell me a story" line gave me the creeps by the end. Harrison has been carrying a torch for Nora since high school, a theme Shreve has handled earlier and better in "Where or When," and here goes beyond inexplicable to self-indulgent. Does Harrison really love Nora or is he just in the throes of a mid-life crisis? Shreve wants us to see a love story. I wanted to slap the two of them.
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