I was fifteen, and on holiday in Greece, when I first discovered Anita Shreve. Specifically Fortune’s Rocks. I loved it so…maybe I identified with the fifteen year old heroine (or wished I did, lacking a sophisticated older man to have a passionate affair with)…and being a voracious reader, I quickly devoured her other novels, and have continued to do so. For some reason, A Wedding in December has slipped through my fingers…possibly because I thought, for some reason I should read it in December. This was completely unnecessary; it’s not a christmas story at all. It is however, like all Anita Shreve, my idea of perfect holiday reading- engaging and easy to read yet definitely not chick-lit (shudder).
The general premise of the story… a group of forty-something school friends, some who haven’t seen each other for twenty-seven years, meet at a country inn to celebrate the wedding of two of their party. Bill and Bridget were childhood sweethearts who didn’t quite make it, and are finally getting their happy ending. Harrison, perfect midlife crisis material, still secretly carries a torch for Nora, who in turn still bears the scars of her teenage boyfriend’s tragic death and her abusive marriage to a famous poet, and there is Agnes, who worries about appearing a dried up spinster to her old friends when she has such a juicy secret life. Throw in the shadow of 9/11, a twenty-six year love affair with a married former teacher, and the fact that Bridget has terminal breast cancer. Hmm..guess this wasn’t really your typical cheerful Christmas read.
Like many of Anita Shreve’s books, this definitely falls into the category of absorbing yet forgettable, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Shreve specialises in the dynamics of human relationships and troublesome secrets from the past, but some of her plots are definitely stronger than others. That said, I have yet to read one of her books that is anything but a superbly written enjoyable reading experience, and I don’t ever feel that familiar outrage of wasted time that a bad book inspires in me. Therefore I can happily recommend this to anyone with contemplating a lazy day after a busy Christmas.