All that discussion about unlikeable characters lately? Well, I loathed almost every character in this novel for his or her pretentious, snobby ways but I loved reading about them. Why? Good novels don't have to have even sympathetic characters, just characters that are interesting and well written.Seating Arrangements is the story of a wedding weekend. Some of the usual staples are there: the frustrated in love sister, the serial divorcee, the nervous father, and in this case the pregnant bride. It has potential to veer towards a more sappy, sentimental recounting of these characters, but Shipstead finds ways of showing the reader the brutal and honest truth. The father of the bride, Winn Van Meter, is wondering what life means now that his daughters are grown and his world of Harvard social clubs is slowly but surely becoming obsolete (or at least inaccessible to him). The standard pretensions and expectations he has held for decades are giving way to the reality of his daughters' lives, the bride, Daphne, and her sister, Livia. They both have had ups and downs, some much more recent, that defy Winn's WASPy preconceptions of life. He does not react well and is having a major crisis of identity. Why did he even get married in the first place? What is the point of not cheating? Why are all these people in his house when he just wants to be alone? Winn is not alone in his serious life reconsiderations this weekend, making the novel well rounded and not just about an old, fussy Harvard man who wants the wedding party of his lawn as soon as possible but instead about the whole world in which these characters inhabit. The large cast of characters is a strength of this novel as well. There is one character, Dominique, is a total outsider to this realm of New England style of wealthy behavior, being from a totally different cultural background but also having attending boarding school with Daphne. She was a latching on point for me when reading, helping me realize that I don't in fact have to find everything about the Van Meter family perfect and wonderful to still be interested in and concerned about its members. Dominique is facing her own set of challenges that are much more rooted in navigating the strange world of the New England elite, casting a light on the van Meters that puts their behavior and cultural norms within context. Not everyone can be a wealthy Boston elite, but we can certainly observe them in their natural habitat. At first I was reluctant to read a book about a wedding weekend, but the excellent characterization made this one more than worth while.