Okay, so I'm at the beach and this is a fairly entertaining beach read. I would probably not have liked it as much as I did if I was home and plodding through normal life. That said, I gave it two stars to be fair to my traditional rating system.
Basically this book chronicals the two days leading up to the wedding of a very posh New England family. The main character is Winn (the father of the bride), but we also get some glimpses into the sister of the bride (Livia) and one of the bride's best friends (Dominque). We don't follow many of the other characters and the bride (interestingly enough) is ver peripheral to the story.
The central theme is selfishness; all of these people are wealthy and healthy and generally "have it all", but Winn and Livia cannot seem to be settled or satisfied or have any real hope at happiness.
I found Winn's sexism to be slightly offensive: "when the screaming ham hock the doctor pulled from between Biddy's legs turned out to be unmistakably female, all crevices and puffiness". Essentially, he never forgives his daughters for being female or his wife for not bearing a son. He is incapable of expressing love to anything but a carbon copy of himself.
Shipstead attempts some contrast through the Francis character (who is also simply selfish and self absorbed): "no one stopped and examined the moment in which they were living. Life is all just like, that's my parking space, you're taking too long, I want the last bagel. I don't know. I was feeling very lost. I still think the moment is what matters. You have to be in the moment. The moment is the unit of being."
Of course Winn's ultimate faux pas comes (under cover of drunkeness and pain killers) with: "well, marriage, even a happy marriage like my own and like I'm sure yours will be, Daphne, is a precursor to death. If you never leave your partner and you're faithful, ,marriage has the same kind of finality. There is nothing else."
Okay enough as a beach read and not poorly written, but nothing really profound and the characters were not very likable.