Sunday, October 26, 2008


Author:  Anita Shreve
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Published:  October, 2008
Personal Rating:  4/5
Yearly Count:  138

From the inside cover:

At Avery Academy, a prestigious New England boarding school, the headmaster finds himself in possession of a videotape - a disaster in a small package.  More shocking than the s*xual acts recorded on the tape are the ages of the students.  One girl is just fourteen.

A Pandora's box, the tape unleashes a storm of shame and recrimination throughout the small community.  The men, women, and teenagers involved speak out to relate the events of that night and their aftermath.  Mike Bordwin, the headmaster, struggles to contain the scandal before it destroys the school.  Silas Quinney, a well-liked local boy, grapples with the tremendous consequences of his mistakes.  Anna, his mother, confronts her own forbidden temptations.  And Sienna, an enigmatic and troubled young woman, tries to put her past behind her.

For all the tape reveals, it provokes more question than it answers.  How did this happen?  Who is to blame?  And will the mistakes of one foolish moment ruin the futures of everyone involved?  As the chorus of voices rises to a crescendo, it reveals the surprising truth of what occurred that night, and how the lives touched by these events will be forever transformed.

Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her great work, Anita Shreve brings us a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller.  No one more compellingly explores the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas, or the ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions.

I was quite shocked by the first chapter due to the explicit behavior it revealed and the outcome it produced.  It definitely set the stage for me to be intrigued to find out the hows and whys.  I wouldn't call it a page-turner, because I already knew the outcome, but it was an interesting read.  I liked receiving the answers to my questions.

I had a love/hate relationship with the format.  I really enjoyed getting the view points of numerous parties and I didn't have a problem remembering who they were and how they were connected.  However, I did not like the continual change of tense and having to pause to figure out who was talking to whom.  I would have preferred a better flow - smoother transitions.  Other than that, I liked the honesty of all those involved.  It felt real.

Testimony was released on October 21, 2008.

You can visit Anita Shreve's web site here.  While you're there, you can sign up for Anita's eNewsletter!

Thank you, Miriam, from Hachette Book Group USA for sending me this copy.


  1. Now that you mention it, I did have to adjust to each 'chapter' - figure out if it was 3rd person or part of the research student's interview. A minor thing, for me. Good review!

  2. Hey Joy, that was really my only problem with the book, the swtiching of people so often. I would have liked it smoother also. Glad you liked the book or more the honesty and realness of it.

  3. Mary ~ It made me pause and figure it out, so it was more than minor for me. I didn't appreciate having to do that. I almost rated it a 3.75. Maybe I just didn't read it right. :)

    Dar ~ I really didn't mind the switching - I actually liked that. I didn't like that I didn't always know instinctively who was talking to whom. There was first person talking to the interviewer in real time, third person in reflection, first person in reflection, etc. I don't even know how to categorize them all, but it was uncomfortable for me. I just wanted it given to me straight! lol Sadly enough, it did seem like a realistic story. Isn't that horrible to think - this happens!?!

  4. I'm curious about the transitions you talk about. The first book I read by Shreve had some weird transitions that I didn't really care for but the rest have been alright with me. I'm kind of on the fence with Shreve--I've really liked some of her books but in the end they all kind of have the same feel for me. I do have 2 more of hers on my shelf, though, so I'll continue to read her books. Glad this one was mostly good for you!!

  5. Hi Joy-
    I rated this similarly. I gave it a 3.5. Glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Trish ~ The only other Shreve book I read was The Last Time They Met. I read it with a book group over 5 years ago and none of us liked it. All I really remember is that we had a "roll your eyes" kind of response.

    Amy ~ I really liked how each character was their own character. She changed voices well.

  7. I've only tried one Anita Shreve book before and didn't enjoy it too much but I really want to try this one... I believe in giving writer's a second chance :)

  8. Hmmm, it sounds like this format could be a bit annoying. I'll probably still give the book a try, but I appreciate the warning. Did the chapter titles/headings not indicate the change in narrator or was did the switch take place within a single chapter?

  9. I've never read Shreve before. Not sure why, but I've never thought her books would interest me all that much. But I have to say, this one does sound good! Great review, Joy!

  10. The last time we met was my first and least favorite...I think The Weight of Water is my favorite so far. Sea Glass was pretty good as well.

  11. Iliana ~ I do, too. :)

    Les ~ Every chapter is titled with a character and I didn't have any trouble keeping them straight. The problem (for me) was having to figure out who the character was talking to. Also, some chapters were in the present, some the past, some first person, some third person, etc. It was jumbled. Like I said somewhere above . . . unless I read it wrong. :)

    Debi ~ It was good, as long as you don't mind the switching and some predictability. You are actually told everything in the first chapter anyway.

    Trish ~ Oh, that's good to know about TLTWM because then there's more hope of me liking The Weight of Water.

  12. Thanks for the honest review, Joy. I've been wondering about this book and will probably still give it a try since you rated it a 4/5. Sounds confusing what with the change of characters doing the talking AND the change in tense. WOW!

  13. Anonymous9:11 PM

    "...better flow - smoother transitions." is a complaint I've read on a couple of reviews. I loved it all though.

  14. Booklogged ~ It's briefly confusing - nothing profound. You (well, for me, anyway) just pause a moment and figure it out and move on. Don't be dissuaded by my comments. :)

    J. Kaye ~ I loved all the different characters and their part in the story. I just didn't like to have to pause.


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