Wedding in December by Anita Shreve

By Anita Shreve

At an lodge within the Berkshire Mountains, seven former schoolmates assemble to rejoice a wedding--a reunion that turns into the get together of amazing revelations because the neighbors jointly remember a long-ago evening that indelibly marked every one in their lives. Written with the fluent narrative artistry that distinguishes all of Anita Shreve's bestselling novels, a marriage in December acutely probes the mysteries of the human middle and the never-ending attract of paths no longer taken.

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Mrs. Fraser was fifty-five possibly, fifty if she was unlucky in her looks. Her hair was as tightly corseted as her body, though her face creased unexpectedly into a nervous smile. Innes wondered why she might be nervous. Her posture was impressive. “Dr. Fraser won’t be home until six o’clock,” she said. “He’s at hospital. A complication with a surgery. Are you hungry? Do you need a bath? ” Innes had yet to say a word. A man appeared, slow and slightly sullen. He was dressed in tie and jacket, though there was no mistaking him for anything but a servant.

Maybe it was not entirely true that Agnes would not have chosen marriage had she been given the opportunity. The difficulty was that Jim sometimes had doubts. He was occasionally overcome by guilt. He wrestled with moral quandaries. That struggle kept him apart from Agnes, usually for months, occasionally for years. Agnes would ask another question then. If a man didn’t have the courage of his convictions, was he still a good man? But how did one define “good”? Agnes wondered. She thought of Bill and Bridget, grasping at a bit of happiness before what might become a dreadful time for both of them.

The courage to do that,” he added. “Carl . . ” “He kept saying that he could never have described the pain. Not even at the height of his powers. ” “But what was truly horrible, Carl always said, was the knowing. ” Harrison agreed. He could think of few things in life worse than knowing when one was going to die, for it seemed to him that all the days in between—between the now and the then—would be tainted, poisoned by that bitter knowledge. “In the end, he picked his own time,” he said. Nora stood, smoothing the hem of her blouse across the flat of her stomach.

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