Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Anita Shreve, Wedding in December

Is adultery inevitable? The answer to this question according to Mrs Shreve is "Yes".

In her latest novel, A Wedding in December, seven forty-somethings meet at a cottage to celebrate the wedding of Bill and Bridget. The seven have been friends at Kidds Academy, but then hardly ever met again during the past 27 years. Their meeting is overshadowed by the death of Steven who drowned a couple of days prior to their graduation from Kidds, half of the group feels responsible for his death.

The narrative style is very fluent and takes you in and I enjoyed the novel for at least 2/3rds of the book, but was very disappointed by the end.

Ultimately, all of the characters - only exception the gay pianist and his partner - have committed adultery or commit adultery during those 3 days.

Nora was the reason why her husband left his family, as she says herself, there is a lot of pressure on the woman that sacrifice is made for and no woman is worth that sacrifice. And still, both Bill and Bridget have been previously married. Bridget was left by her husband a couple of years ago for another woman, Bill left his wife for Bridget. Bridget had been left by Bill for his first wife.

Harrison has always been in love with Nora, who back at Kidds was his best-friend Stevens girlfriend, now Harrison is married with two boys. They are the reasons he won't leave his wife for Nora.

Agnes, another of the characters, writes a novel about the Hallifax explosion and her main character marries the wrong person, too, because his true love won't marry him. At the end of that novel he will meet her again and commit adultery with her.

As much as I love the idea of there being "your true partner" out there, I found the novel very diasappointing, because of its treatment of the betrayed partners. The rectification for the main characters seemed to be, that they had just married the wrong person - for a couple of reasons. Really, their first love was their true love. Though this reasoning may portray the reasoning when you fall for someone else, I would have wished for one character to remain true to his partner.

Although, it is briefly discussed how Bridget felt when her husband left her and what Agnes goes through who has been a mistress for 27 years, the portrayal of betrayed partners is too shallow. In addition, the novel leaves the impression that your first marriages have to end in divorce because you will have chosen the wrong partner in your twenties, early thirties. The years of marriage that lie in between seem to just be swept away. Only reason to stay with your partner after 40: kids.

Now, it may be a fact, that many marriages fail and end in divorce around 40, but is it really inevitable and is it inevitable that the spouse is left? Is the "new (old) love" really always the better one?

You can read more about it here.

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