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What We’re Reading: Testimony by Anita Shreve

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Anita Shreve is one of my favorite “popular” novelists, who manages to gracefully bridge the span between literary and commercial fiction. In Testimony (Back Bay Books, 2008, paper), one of her most recent novels, she describes a sexual scandal at an upscale Vermont boarding school from a myriad of angles.

Not only is the narrative divided up among more than a dozen different characters, but Shreve has the literary chutzpah to alternate the point of view in each chapter from first to third to even second person.

It’s a tour de force that is not distracting, but actually works to create a complicated mosaic that ultimately reveals a portrait filled with intrigue, desire, and heartbreak. Only in the final chapters do we see the full picture and learn the terrible consequences of the leading characters’ actions. If you haven’t read Shreve before, this is as good a place to start as any.

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