Sunday, June 28, 2009

Testimony by Anita Shreve - A Book Review

Anita Shreve's latest novel, Testimony, takes place at an elite boarding school in New England. It takes up one of Shreve's favorite plot devices: the disastrous results of a bad decision. In this case, the plot centers around the after-effects of a filmed drunken orgy involving a freshman girl and 3 senior basketball players.

The novel is told in a kaleidoscope of voices, all characters affected in some way by the ensuing scandal. This narrative method is particularly effective at demonstrating the destructive ripple effect of four people's actions on the community. Shreve was effective in giving each character a very different voice and in laying out the story clearly with all the different points of view.

Shreve took on a very complex project with Testimony, and delivered another signature gripping read. Testimony was at once shocking, terrifying, and beautifully written. Each character really came to life, whether it was the vacuous freshman girl at the heart of the scandal or the devastated mother of one of the perpetrators.

According to the interview at the end of the book, Shreve initially planned on delivering the entire story from the viewpoint of the headmaster but shifted to the different voices when she realized that he was missing key points of information. Ironically, his character was the one whose motives and emotions were least clear to me.

I thoroughly enjoyed Testimony. This is one Anita Shreve novel you do not want to miss.


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