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Maggie Shipstead Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Seating Arrangements (2012)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Astonish Me (2014)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Great Circle (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Maggie Shipstead is a short fiction author and novelist that is best known for the novel “Great Circle.” She earned a Stanford Wallace Stegner Fellowship and graduated from the Iowa Writers Workshop. Her writing has been featured in The Best American Short Stories, The New York Times, American Short Fiction, The San Francisco Chronicle, VQR, Tin House, and The Paris Review Daily.
In 2012, she made the shortlist for the National Magazine La Moretta Award. “Seating Arrangement” her debut novel would become the winner of the Art Seidenbaum Award by the LA Times, won the Dylan Thomas Prize and would go on to become a bestseller in the US.
Even though she has become quite a successful author she did not grow up with dreams of becoming an author. She was born in Orange County and in the several years she was peripatetic, reading was very prominent in her life. Her mother always thought that she would become an author but she really resisted the whole idea.

As a teenager, Maggie Shipstead went to Harvard which is where she had a clearer path. She started as an aggressive high school grad but was impacted by culture shock which to some extent negatively impacted her progress. But with time she managed to immerse herself in the academic experience and started getting some good grades.

For a time, she thought about majoring in anthropology but dropped out after the introductory class. She found it difficult not to be judgmental which is what is needed to make a career in the field. She decided to switch to English as she thought maybe she could pursue a career in academia.
Everything changed when she acted out of impulse while she was a sophomore. She took a class with Lan Samantha Chang, the Radcliffe Institute fellow and novelist who was teaching a creative class. He then attended a Zadie Smith junior workshop and soon after she wrote a short story anthology.
That very year she co authored the Hasty Pudding Show and this was the first time anything she wrote was read by someone who was not her mother, adviser or workshop tutor.

While Maggie Shipstead had quite some success, her career remained uncertain and amorphous for a while. She could not see herself writing a novel and for months after graduation she did not know what she wanted to do.
She soon found a job at a law firm as everyone thought she would be good at it since she was very verbal. But she knew law school was not for her and it was not long before she went to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
A few years after graduating with her MFA she published her debut novel Seating Arrangements. According to Shipstead the novel was inspired by the statue of Jean Batten, a New Zealand Captain active during the 1930s.

“Seating Arrangements” by Maggie Shipstead is the story of Winn Van Meter. At the opening of the novel, he is traveling to Waskeke, the pristine New England Island owned by his family. It is usually a haven of clam but once he gets there it will be full of drunk revellers as Winn is preparing for the marriage of Daphne, his daughter.
She is getting married to Greyson Duff, a young, affable and impressionable scion. Biddy, his wife who is known for her military precision had made all the plans only for what she had done to be swept away by a storm of intractable lust and salacious misbehavior.
Livia, who is Daphne’s sister, recently broke up with the son of her father’s biggest rival Teddy Fenn. She has now set her eyes on the best man at her sister’s wedding.
Meanwhile, Winn is tormented by the presence of Agatha, a bridesmaid on whom he has a long standing crush when he should be enjoying his patriarchal duties. The groom and bride now preside over an embarrassing spectacle of marital infidelity and misplaced desire.

Maggie Shipstead’s “Astonish Me” is a fiercely compelling and gorgeously written glimpse into the intense world of professional ballet and how it can influence generations.
The lead is a ballerina named Joan whose life revolves around her relationship with Arslan Ruskov, a world famous dancer. She had been instrumental in helping him defect from New York but it now seems as if she is more dependent on him. As his career takes off in the Big Apple hers has been declining and seems dead when she falls pregnant.

She decides that she would be better off marrying Jacob, a PhD student and a long term admirer of hers. With the years passing by, she is settling into her California life and watches Harry her son become a prodigy while she teaches dance. But Harry’s growing success soon brings him to the attention of Arslan.
It is not long before ex[losive secrets come out into the open threatening to destroy the fragile balance Joan had established between her present and the past. In inimitable and graceful prose, the author draws her readers into an extraordinary world with tempestuous and very vivid characters.

“Great Circle” by Maggie Shipstead is the story of Jamie and Marian Graves. As infants they had been rescued from a sinking ship and were raised by a relative in Missoula, Montana. In their teenage years, Marian had met some barnstorming pilots visiting on their ancient biplanes and this would be the genesis of her love affair with flying.

As a fourteen year old, she became a school dropout and for a patron she finds a dangerous though unlikely patron in a wealthy smuggler who subsidizes her lessons and provides a plane. But the arrangement will come to bite her in the backside even though it helps her move closer to the dream of one day circumnavigating the globe on a plane.

A hundred years later, Hadley Baxter wins the role of Marian in a film that reenacts her disappearance over Antarctica. Canny, vibrant and disgusted by the aloofness of the film industry she is happy to redefine herself following her work in a romantic film franchise that had locked her into unwanted celebrity status.

As she gets into character, her story intermingles with that of Marian, each hungry to chart their own path even if they lived in vastly different times and geographical locations.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Maggie Shipstead

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