Book Review: Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead is about the complicated relationship of a father and a daughter. Livia is a heartsick young girl trying to rebound and recover after a complicated relationship, and Winn is a steady and staid almost 60-year-old attempting to reconcile his steady and staid life with what could have been.

Livia is entitled and whiny, and she makes poor decisions. Winn is chauvinistic, privileged, and also makes poor decisions.

Frankly, neither main character is particularly likeable, so if you want to like the characters you’re reading about, this one probably isn’t for you. With that being said, the flaws of Winn and Livia are both very relatable.

Why Seating Arrangements By Maggie Shipstead?

Seating Arrangements (Vintage Contemporaries)Seating Arrangements (Vintage Contemporaries)The book provides readers with a fascinating glimpse into a fictional weekend in the life of the upper class as the Van Meters and the Duffs prepare for a wedding.

Set at the Van Meter’s family retreat, the book follows as main characters Winn and his daughter, Livia, struggle with issues personal to themselves, yet very similar to one another. To the reader, Winn and Livia are very similar, and yet, neither can see themselves in the other.

It’s a dense read about love, life, disappointment, and ultimately, leaving the past behind and moving forward in a less-than-perfect world.


About Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Set at the family summer home on the island of Waskeke, this story was fascinating because it was both idyllic and dark; filled with cheer and regret. Winn and Livia have gathered with extended family members at the Van Meter family retreat because Livia’s older sister, Daphne, is getting married. The story takes place over the course of three days, and the story starts to take place as the family of the groom begins to roll into town.

Seating Arrangements Island RetreatSoon, Livia and Winn are both caught in their own twisted webs of lust and a desire to fit in. In many ways, Winn and Livia mirror one another, and in their own ways, they’re both dealing with similar issues.

Winn and Olivia are both extremely flawed, and while they have everything they could want, neither has everything they ever needed. For example, Winn lacked a strong love from his stoic father, and in turn, Livia lacks the same.

Books like Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead:

You can find reviews for both books here: Bittersweet | The Woman Upstairs

Bittersweet: A NovelBittersweet: A NovelThe Woman Upstairs (Vintage Contemporaries)The Woman Upstairs (Vintage Contemporaries)

I didn’t particularly like Livia or Winn, but each character was truly captivating, and the ways in which the issues were passed from parent to child—and then came out sideways—made the story fascinating, and I truly could not put it down.

While I enjoyed the existential crises displayed in Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead, there are some who did not. The book has only three stars on both Amazon and Goodreads.



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