Monday, 20 July 2009

Cassandra at the wedding VMC 67

I like to theme my reading around things that I am doing, so, going off to a wedding last weekend, I felt that I needed some wedding-themed reading. Having just started my VVV, I thought I had better take a Virago. I've read the most obvious wedding Virago - Taylor's The wedding group - so I typed in "wedding" into the Virago website and Cassandra at the wedding was one of the titles that came up.

This is the story of Cassandra, a graduate student from Berkeley, who returns home to attend the wedding of her twin sister Judith. However, as the story unfolds we find out that Cassandra is determined to sabotage the wedding. It would give too much away to go into more detail about the ways in which Cassandra does this, and whether or not the wedding goes ahead, but the story is full of twists and turns and is completely unpredictable. As well as following the story of Cassandra and the wedding, we are given insight into Cassandra's struggles with her identity and the problem of being an identical twin, which seems to lie behind a lot of her desire to prevent the wedding going ahead. Reviewers on Amazon and on the blurb have compared this book to A catcher in the rye, and I think this is a good comparison - Cassandra is very mixed up, but equally she is astute and pithy.

I loved the style of writing in this book, Cassandra is both witty and wry, and although the book is dealing with some hard issues and very difficult moments, it comes across as quite frothy. the other characters are equally well drawn - the more stable twin sister Judith, her grandmother who prefers to ignore what she does not like or want to happen, and the likeable doctor that Judith wants to marry. Virago have some extracts on their website, which you can tempt yourself with here:

This was the first Virago book that I had read by an American author, so I'm looking forward to the fact that this challenge won't restrict me to English authors and their works. In fact, I nearly ended up with The wedding by Dorothy West, which is another American Virago.

I read the edition at the top of the page (which looks strangely like chick-lit (which is good if it encourages people to read something more classic, although I am not hugely attracted to it myself), but Virago have also published it with these two covers:


  1. I have the middle cover.
    I am *really* looking forward to reading this now after reading your review.

  2. The middle cover looks spooky! Sounds like a page-turner of a book though.

  3. The middle cover does look rather Gothic/fantastical - is that at all a reflection on the book, Verity?

    I don't like the newer cover AT ALL; although I agree that it attracts an audience that normally wouldn't read it my fear is that it deters readers who WOULD read it.

    I am really struggling with the desire to read this immediately but I have too many books that I need to finish and others that I have to read sooner rather than later. I am juggling too many books and I am not coordinated in the slightest.

  4. No, it's not Gothic at all, but I think it's supposed to illustrate Cassandra's confusion about life and her relationships.

  5. I read this last year after finding the middle covered version in a charity shop while on holiday in Brighton with no books to read.

    I thought it was excellent, and is especially poignant for those with a sister they are very close to. I remember feeling some of the emotions Cassandra does when my sister got married and left me! sob!

    It's such a great exploration of female closeness and jealousy and love and the struggle to discover who you really are that you seem to hit in your late teens/early twenties. It is a very emotion centred novel, which I think is reflected in the old green virago looks like an acid trip to me ! but also makes me think of an altered, emotionally vulnerable mind. I hate the new candy floss cover...eugh. Totally doesn't represent the book at all.

    PBR, read it soon!

  6. Thanks for your thoughts Rachel - I'm an only child so I didn't really "get" all of the emotions that Cassandra went through.

    Candy floss indeed, but it did at least make me feel like I was doing holiday reading AND getting a VMC under my belt.

    How awful to be stuck away with no books - but quite good if you find a decent bookshop I guess. With over 100 books awaiting my attention, I guess it is unlikely that I would fail to pack enough books, but I also often worry about not having a book that I want to read with me!