Read Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker Deborah Eisenberg Online


Cassandra Edwards is a graduate student at Berkeley: gay, brilliant, nerve-racked, miserable. At the beginning of this novel, she drives back to her family ranch in the foothills of the Sierras to attend the wedding of her identical twin, Judith, to a nice young doctor from Connecticut. Cassandra, however, is hell-bent on sabotaging the wedding.   Dorothy Baker’s entrancinCassandra Edwards is a graduate student at Berkeley: gay, brilliant, nerve-racked, miserable. At the beginning of this novel, she drives back to her family ranch in the foothills of the Sierras to attend the wedding of her identical twin, Judith, to a nice young doctor from Connecticut. Cassandra, however, is hell-bent on sabotaging the wedding.   Dorothy Baker’s entrancing tragicomic novella follows an unpredictable course of events in which her heroine appears variously as conniving, self-aware, pitiful, frenzied, absurd, and heartbroken—at once utterly impossible and tremendously sympathetic. As she struggles to come to terms with the only life she has, Cassandra reckons with her complicated feelings about the sister who she feels owes it to her to be her alter ego; with her father, a brandy-soaked retired professor of philosophy; and with the ghost of her dead mother.   First published in 1962, Cassandra at the Wedding is a book of enduring freshness, insight, and verve. Like the fiction of Jeffrey Eugenides and Jhumpa Lahiri, it is the work of a master stylist with a profound understanding of the complexities of the heart and mind....

Title : Cassandra at the Wedding
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ISBN : 9781590176122
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Cassandra at the Wedding Reviews

  • Mariel
    2019-03-27 15:58

    "You've always needed a lot more of everything than I do," she said. "Haven't you?"I wanted to tell her that I didn't need much. Just a few essentials- faith in something and a little sense of location, but I didn't. I didn't because I was looking at her and seeing, again, the very face I'd seen behind the bottles in the bar this afternoon, the one that can always give me a turn when I really look at it and know who it is and why it looks back at me the way it does- as if it belonged to me.Dorothy Baker left the ache that pumps the heart less in the eye socket sucker look that passes when you catch your own expression in the mirror and in the beat before you can't recognize your own face that's gonna be the face you gotta get used to seeing all by its lonesome for the rest of your life. It may as well be no one looking back because you'll never get used to seeing them. I got a lot out of Cassandra at the Wedding and still I cannot truthfully say that it is a good book. My heart would pitter patter on the lie detector test. Slow witted, meandering and bored. Okay, it cut me deep because I'm terrified that this is what I'm like. You can tell I'm lying by the flat lining on the monitors hooked up to my (a)voided eye socket in the mirror that says I'm gonna die alone. In lipstick, of course. Shade you dumb fuck. Cassandra at the Wedding is that type of book. Cassandra's shade would be something like red cross and blue shield.Judith's maternal look before identical twin Cassandra's settled in the boozy late as in late day vanity mirror. It's replaced with exasperation and oh no she didn't! Did she really say that? Girlfriend, sistah and whatever the '60s movie Hayley Mills might have snappily snapped around the time. Fingers and jazz hands. You know, maybe something directed by her father and a bid to escape Disney's casting couch dirty and clean on the buttoned in time front clutches for some societally conscious edge. Judith is getting married to a doctor! I didn't catch if she was going to finish college after she married what's his face or not. Did anyone in that family even ask? Maybe they were too hushed voices around temper tantrum throwing Cassandra. Let's get together/ yeah yeah yeah like that song from The Parent Trap (I don't know about you but my identical twin self was mortified by that song and cute act for the adults). Let's put on all the songs the family knows to keep the peace. We mustn't upset Cassandra, daddy, Judith or grandma! I can see all too well how that dance went. Deceased mama was one of those glamour pusses that memoirists excuse how little care they took with their children because they just looked so darn good in a pair of boots and a nice purse. Yawn. I didn't care too much about how drunk Cassandra always was. Glasses clink, glasses are swirled, glasses held and it's all props, security blankets and things to do with your hands. My hand hides a yawn. Cassandra at the Wedding pretty much bored me a lot of the time. Blah blah Cassandra can talk anyone into doing anything she wants because she has a WAY about her. I didn't see it when Cassandra is talking and I didn't see it when it was Judith's turn. I've had a lifetime of twin expectations to live with and it's too never cut through the surface bullshit for me to never get past "Oh, but we are deliberately different because people expect us to be the same!" Oh my god! Really?! I never would have thought... Oh wait, I did. The issue comes up once in a while and pretending that it is an all the time thing is too much for me. It was important that Cassandra measured herself by Judith. I would have gotten that without all the toilet hair holding. Judith hides behind how Cassandra is seen, like a kid on the first day of kindergarten and mommy hasn't worked up the necessary nerve to leave baby to sink or swim. Girl will say anything, ya'll! I'm such a good little girl. What was with the holier than thou act from Judith after all this time? She's not her damned mama. Was she winning because she found a man to marry? Cassandra at the Wedding bugged the fuck out of me with that shit. I liked Cassandra's inner feather ruffling over how Judith will stroke her with those maternal looks. Sometimes it is in the wrong direction and other times kitty purrs. That was good. Why waste my time with superficial observations when you can talk about what it is really all about? It's about how you can't stand to be held and you can't live without it. You don't wanna get used to the face you see in the mirror.Cassandra announces straight off that she cannot be a writer because her dead mother was one. She can't live in her shadow and she can't surpass it. Bull shit. Cassandra hides behind these couch observations. Was it any surprise that she had a lady shrink that she tried to impress with all of her on her back and legs in the air excuses, excuses, excuses? I liked the way that Baker didn't make a deal about Cassandra's lesbianism. Did she have to roll out the rug munching with the LOOK that the doc had when she alights on Cassandra's suicidal blond face? LOVE. Fuck me. I get it, Cassandra has the WAY and everyone likes her, even after she pulls the if you get married I'll kill myself routine? I actually liked Cassandra sometimes. I liked it when she fantasizes about what it would be like to have bats living in her hair. It's no good when she inevitably humanizes the bats in her hair. That's a problem, identifying everything as human. You're telling me. I liked when she is fascinated with the drain at the bottom of the swimming pool. I think about Cassandra's fixation on the light from above reflecting on the depths a lot. I think about it when I test myself on how long I can hold my own breath.And it killed me. Flat lined on Charlie Brown's lovelorn not sunshine yellow jersey. Judith didn't know why Cassandra always thought the two of them together was something so special. I don't believe she ever really did. I don't know how to go on believing that either. I wanted to, for them, and I couldn't. Dorothy Baker never did this for me. I wish that she had not tried to. Judith waited for Cassandra to come home to their apartment. The bosendorfer they had purchased together that only Judith could play waits like it could be a furry kitten. Judith abandons the ship mama didn't let sink or swim and the bosendorfer and Cassandra's belly are willfully anorexic to all strokes and fur rubbing, wrong way or no. It scares her how skinny Cassandra has gotten. If it was her Cassandra would find the will to bring her back to the shore. Mouth to mouth and heart to heart. Lips moving and hearts moving and I hear no words. Lip synching and not in my kitchen sync. Identical twin hands with those mirror image thumb prints touching. But she doesn't need help and Cassandra is alone. She has someone. Cassandra does not. Baker killed me. Carson McCullers apparently stayed up all night reading Cassandra at the Wedding. I knew that when reading it and couldn't help but think about her two novels (that have meant the world to me throughout my life so far) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Member of the Wedding. 'Hunter' is the worst thing that could ever happen to me. The loss of the music in my head that gets me throughout the days. Anything at all to look forward to, a moving to be close to something, anywhere I can get it. Even if I have to invent what to be close to myself. 'Member' is when what you have to do to get that does not work any more and it is dire straights. I believe she got something out of 'Cassandra' because I did too, despite it being no where near as good as her novels. Too much breath wasted on the mechanizations of the self destruction and not enough for what the pull to join it looked like. I got it when she's in the pool and the bats in her hair. I got it in the passing looks when she looks at Judith and sees an almost her and an almost Judith. Why would Judith just go but I have someone and you don't? (I didn't care about her doctor at all. He's an unoffensive type, essentially.) If Cassandra truly believed that the two of them were something special then where was the Cassandra half that's the force I'm supposed to believe she is? She was not there for anyone or for herself. I've been too close to the worst thing that could ever happen to me of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I knew Member of the Wedding before my fourteen year old self found myself in it for the first time. I know what the hell you have to do to stop that, if you can. Cassandra at the Wedding missed it when it didn't talk about that. I don't give a shit if Cassandra was a loveable self destruct button pusher (not really). So, she wasn't not writing because of her glamour pussy always got stroked mama. She was hiding. The whole damned thing was an act and one that is too easy to see through. If you're going to invent it should be something you can live on or it's going to be worse when you have to look at yourself. They have someone and you don't, right? Cries. I didn't want some easy cliche about people stereotyping you against your twin when I knew that before I could crawl! I didn't need to be told that it is no good to count on anyone else to love you because I knew that before I could stand on my own two feet! If I can stand on my own two feet. Cassandra can't. Will she ever? I have no idea. If this book told me she could I wouldn't believe it. I wanted a book I could believe. I wanted company. I wanted a friend! Is that too much to ask?Okay, I hated this book somewhat because I felt like it was telling me (Cassandra) that I'm too attached to people I like and they all have their own lives and have no use for me. This is true, I already knew it was true. I don't need this book to tell me that! Okay, so reading this made me feel sick to my stomach and I am honestly going to swear off all attachments for good this time. After I finish snuggling with this rabbit. Just five more minutes!

  • Mary
    2019-03-27 14:10

    She wastes herself, she drifts; all she wants to do with her life is lose it somewhere.The title of this novel sounds peppy and chick-flick-y. Thankfully, it was a self-deprecating, slow moving madness. A fog. A bundle of nerves. The story switched gears halfway and became serious very quickly. And it's wonderfully dark and frantic.I wanted to stop and explain it to granny, tell her it was my fault for not knowing what I should have known - that people like us can't really be people and live happy lives. There's a cloud over us and we're caught in it together, then, now, and always.All this sadness and dysfunction and these family members who drink and fret and deny. It was, as it turned out, a perfect choice to read in the midst of the holiday season.

  • Vipassana
    2019-04-05 11:51

    The things that get in your way; the indignities you have to suffer before you’re free to do one simple, personal, necessary thing--like work.But I will release Cassandra's self pity that I have come to imagine as my own. As I watch the winds as carrying away my contrived notion of reality, watching the light do great many things to it until, it is out of sight and perhaps I will be bold enough to make the distinction.It has become increasingly hard for me to put the jibber jabber of thoughts on my mind in a coherent and constructive manner. It has become increasingly hard for me to draw my focus to the matter at hand. I am trying. Cassandra came into my life and despite her own mess, she helped clear mine. I have tried many ways to do this review, to actually explain what happened in with Cassandra at the Wedding, but it seems distant and dishonest. Instead, I hope you will endure my attempts to gain clarity.People in isolation don't do well. Not even the snarky ones who claim to abhor humanity. They are only deeply dissatisfied with mankind. It is visible to the logical mind but opaque to those who have been drowned in this frame of mind, they are simply unhappy with themselves. The unhappiness arises from a vision of how life should be, a vision that is the only access to happiness and the chasm between the vision and reality.Cassandra's vision is of a life with her identical, yet very different, twin, Judith. This vision is rooted in a perfect night, a moment of recognition of a way to live in consonance with one’s ideals. Moments that put the mind on a a high pinnacle of joy, bound to result in a great collapse.An imminent catastrophe tends to make us question the validity of the past. In theory, it is absurd to imagine the past with the wisdom of the present, yet often one views the past anachronistically. One may abandon the bliss of times gone by as juvenile or silly. Or revere it beyond it’s expiration, clinging on the debris as it comes crashing to the earth. It seems that these people are unable to make peace with their personal misgivings.Everbody has impulses... I have all kinds. Just about like yours. But I always hoped I could bring you to understand that there is such a thing as a whole life - a way of life - and a reason of that is strong enough to protect you from every little whistling call of the wild.A whole life is not given on a platter. It has to be made and It involves failure. A vision like that should be relieving, not having to be perfect and reality can be more glorious than that if only one embraces it. Yet, when one lives with a strict adherence to one's values, there is difficulty testing another way. The difference that I see between the two ways of living is what you respect most, an ideal higher truth or imperfect human beings with a right to pursue a better life. Cassandra is that person of staunch ideals but she loves Jude enough to listen to her arguments, to long for a lighter life.Part of this willingness comes from Cassandra's sense of oneness with Judith. As someone who has a very strong bond with my sibling, this felt distinctly similar. Perhaps living in the same family, on the same lopsided power equation makes siblings understand each other in a way other kinds of relationships don't. The deep satisfaction of that oneness can get suffocating. Clinging on to the other, who wants to deviate the narrow path. The conflict unearths a deep seated conflict that I have within myself. Can I tread another world, for a while? Can I whole heartedly immerse myself there? But can I also come back? It seems greedy, as I write this down, but more than anything I want permission to make mistakes because I'm finding it very hard to seize it as a right.--I'm writing this well over a month since I read the book. It feels nice to still have a place to come to an babble on incoherently about this brilliant novel, especially when I see that a few of my GR friends have been reading this :)--October 25, 2015

  • Tony
    2019-04-18 15:16

    Cassandra's twin sister is getting married and Cassandra is grieving this schism. Who gets the Bösendorfer? What do twins wear at one twin's wedding? For once, in literature, a harmlessly drunk father. They were like this:"Do you remember, Papa?" I said, "when you read to us out of The Anatomy of Melancholy --'Be not idle, be not solitary'?""It's the other way around, I believe," papa said. "'Be not solitary, be not idle.' What about it?""Nothing, except I remembered it. It's why I left Berkeley and went to New York. I was stuck.""I don't know why I should have chosen to read that to you," papa said, "I've always believed in solitude."He looked down, saw his glass, recognized it, and took a drink."And in idleness too," he said. "I think the precept at the end of the book is more to the point. How does it go? Sperate Miseri, Cavete Felices. It's more for people like me.""What's it mean?""You should know," he said, "it couldn't be simpler, it means: Hope, ye unhappy ones, Ye happy ones, fear."My family does not talk like that. I look down and see my glass. I recognize the odd one in a family.Catch the bouquet. Don't get tight. Come see the flowers. Come look at the buffet. Be nice._____ _____ _____ _____ _____PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:If someone you know takes (on purpose) too many sleeping pills (eg.), the Universal Antidote is two parts burned toast (crushed), one part strong tea, two parts milk of magnesia. Apparently this is doctoring 101. Now you know.

  • Hadrian
    2019-04-09 18:11

    This was a treat of a short novel. You'd think that family drama over a wedding would be a well-worn subject, but Baker approaches the subject with nerve and excitement. The story revolves around Cassandra Edwards, a lesbian graduate student at Berkeley, receives the news of her sister Judith's wedding. She plans to 'rescue' her sister and destroy everything. The funniest parts are where the Cassandra explains her ridiculous actions in very reasonable (if a tad neurotic) tone. For some reason, I'm reminded of Plato's Symposium, with its long digressions on the nature of love and completeness, two people becoming one and all that fluff. I think its because the father figure here is a perfect stand-in for the boozy Socrates.

  • Jill
    2019-03-24 11:48

    “The first thing one learns in life is that the self is a partial thing; at the very moment of birth one is consigned to terminal separateness. The one attribute we can be sure that we all share is incompleteness.”Reading this in Deborah Eisenberg’s afterword sent volts through me. My sister and I just had this conversation, over the dregs of our breakfast coffee at 2pm: conceptions of self are so fluid, so contingent on other people, so impossible to articulate. And I don’t know that we’re incomplete, actually, but that each of us is infinite, depending on perception and expression. I am large, I contain multitudes.Sometimes books are just so goddamn timely. I mean: I’ve had this book for years, but started it – fully unintentionally – the day before I boarded a plane from Whitehorse to Montreal, crossing the country away from my sister’s new city.Reading this book was sickly familiar – like when you excitedly eat that seriously rich dessert you loved as a kid, but, churning, realize you can’t quite stomach it as an adult.Aside from metaphor – I won’t get into it; it doesn’t need getting into. But those scenes where the twins remember sitting at the feet of their philosopher father as he pontificates, educates; where the sounds of the old family home hold too much memory, too much power; where Cassandra rails against stretching outwards for fear of losing that private beauty she can’t relinquish ----- This book is a goddamn treasure, alright. The shifts between the twins’ voices and perspectives are calculated and marvellous, the parallels subtle and the divergences glaring. Both Cass and Jude are built up carefully, judiciously, with attention to minute detail. The plot winds slowly, but with that car-crash-what’s-gonna-happen-oh-god-i-can’t-look-away kind of suspense: you know something’s gonna hit the fan, but how and when is a slap in the damn face.Don’t spoil yourself. Just pick this up and take it all in: the descriptions of violent heat in California, the insistent questioning of love and fairness, the snark and the insight, the sheer absurdity that is a family unit. This is artful construction, but more – loving construction – from an author who decorously understands each character she’s created, who has given them space to play, to hide, and if not to fight – to run.It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book and sympathized so fiercely with such an abhorrent ‘protagonist’ (Pravda and Seven Types of Ambiguity – looking at you, boys). But I loved Cassandra (who I couldn’t stop picturing as Margot Kidder in Black Christmas); I loved her, I got her, man, and I saw that brat’s rotten flaws and possessive fire and her failure to overcome and. And. What a perfect example of a timeless character, bleeding through her ‘60s context right into 2016: I know exactly how you feel, Cassandra; or if not exactly: I can imagine it.I’ve been crying all day, on and off planes, as I cross the country and head home. I miss my sister. But I am not Cassandra, and she’s in no way – least of all characterization, hah – Judith. We’ve both crossed the bridge. I miss her every day, but: I know she misses me, too.With endless respect to Dorothy Baker for writing such a brilliant, such an outstandingly relatable, novel.

  • Lobstergirl
    2019-04-08 17:01

    Dorothy Baker was apparently a straight woman who liked to write lesbian fiction. The lesbianism of the main character and narrator, Cassandra, is subtly treated. She sits down with her identical twin sister Judith and tells her "as honestly as I could how I'm constituted. With men I feel like a bird in the clutch of a cat, terrified, caught in a nightmare of confinement, wanting nothing but to get free and take a shower." She's also more than a little emotionally disturbed, sees an analyst, and has thoughts of suicide - the Golden Gate Bridge appears to her as an "exit sign." She is having extreme difficulty separating from Judith, who went east to study at Juilliard and is now engaged to a doctor. The novel, set at the family ranch near Bakersfield, California, details Cassandra's attempts to derail the wedding and have Judith to herself. "There's probably a school for wives, but you don't need to go" Cassandra tells Judith, intending it as a snub of Judith's caretaking ways. The family is bohemian and loving, especially the sweet-tempered Granny, so Cassandra's selfishness can seem cruel, yet she's not an unlikeable character. She probably just takes after her mother, who recently died of cancer and whom Judith describes as less like a mother and "more like somebody's little brother."I found this book on the library shelf while looking for Nicholson Baker's The Anthologist, which wasn't there. So this is what happens when you're a no-show, Nicholson. Bakers are a dime a dozen. Learn from this.

  • Julie
    2019-04-20 15:58

    I have a deep fondness for sad-stuff-presented-cheerfully. The example I always think of is that song “But Not for Me,” specifically one of the versions by Judy Garland. The song is really about anguish, I think, but she sings it in a lovely, fairly understated way that sort of lets you off the hook somehow – like you have a choice between listening to it remotely and staying emotionally calm, or really focusing on it and getting kind of verklempt and suicidal. Most especially, I love the funny (and odd) little intro that goesOld Man Sunshine, listen youNever tell me dreams come trueJust try it / and I’ll start a riotBeatrice Fairfax, don’tcha dareEver tell me he will careI’m certain / it’s the final curtainI never want to hear from any cheerful PolyannasWho tell you fate supplies a mate; it’s all bananasThis book reminded me of that song, in that it’s about something painful, but it’s written with such a light touch, and so astutely, and with such snappy humor, that I just felt good and happy and warm the whole time I was reading it. Partly my reaction was so effusive because my expectations were low (apparently I think anything written in 1962 has to be Peyton Place, because I’m a moron), so I’m hesitant to praise it too much and inadvertently get anyone else’s expectations up too high before they read it. Also, I’m afraid to actively recommend it to anyone because I’m worried they’ll end up feeling snobbish about the delightfully sharp dialogue, like maybe they’ll decide the book is just some kind of easily dismissed confection. But I guess there’s no way around saying that I loved it. It sort of killed me, in all the good ways. And if anyone I know reads this book and doesn’t also dig it, please don’t tell me, because I can’t take it.[Four stars if I’m trying hard to be objective; five stars because it made my heart sing. Part of the New York Review Books Classics collection, which apparently strives to bring out-of-print or forgotten books back into circulation.]

  • Josh
    2019-03-24 18:04

    Twins, for the most part, have close bonds. A bond that many of us cannot relate to. They sometimes have their own way of communicating, their own way of relating to others and trying to find themselves apart from their womb companion. When one tries to leave -- that bond, that strong, substantial, never-broken bond -- erodes away; leaving one vulnerable to the world of strangers that are not like themselves.Judith and Cassandra were born into a life of luxury and of old money. Both are educated, witty and smart-mouthed. Judith is moving on with her life, another chapter commences and Cassandra is not ready, with her misery loves company. The wedding signifies the break in this aforementioned bond and she will not let Judith go without a fight; this will not happen without someone dying trying. Baker's 'Cassandra at the Wedding' shows how a family functions better when they are away from one another and the dysfunction that happens when they come together.Life's a stage; It's only big enough for one and Cassandra will be the star.

  • Zanna
    2019-04-15 15:03

    I identified strongly with Cassandra for several personal reasons, which I won't detail. This probably helped me maintain sympathy for her despite her often inconsiderate thoughtless behaviour (one of the reasons is that I also tend towards these unattractive traits) and vitriol:There again, I thought, say it twice and underline it. The emblem of good women is always this anxiety about drinking – other people's drinking. And I knew why. Because alcohol releases truth and truth is something good women never care to hear. It frightens then. They only want to hear cliches about how lovely it is to be home again, and what an exciting occasion this is, not only a glad reunion but with a wedding thrown in.While I share Cassandra's repulsion towards romantic convention, I'm less sure about this negative description of the benefits of alcohol, as is the narrative, which not only lands Cassandra with a killer hangover but also a near-fatal dose of disillusionment after drunkenness led her into deception self and otherwise. Personally I suspect that the centrality of alcohol in White Usian/British social life is one of the reasons most of us can't actually talk or relate to each other with sincerity and warmth, or love and enjoy each other in the raw as opposed to performing unqualified admiration or blissful contentment. Still, I don't do better, and I abstain.In so far as I find the novel irritating, it's as I generally do the malaise of privileged people; the Edwards' have all the money they need to buy the things they want, but as Deborah Eisenberg points out, not only does Baker make us well aware of this, but unlike much of the well-regarded fiction of the day, she also presents economic privilege in a positive light. The family derive genuine pleasure from the comforts they can afford, which Baker puts to expository and character-developing work, with no wallowing. The text came freshly alive for me when Cassandra thinks with pleasure about the dress she has just bought on her grandmother's account, and how both the dress and the charge will make her grandmother happy.To be honest I find this appreciative attitude towards agreeable possessions realistic and relateable – I love nice stuff too. It also rings true that this family, whose material wants are well-supplied, take their fondest pleasures in the voluptuous joys of thought and creativity. They do not consume to demonstrate their status or to assuage other deficiencies. The twins' father is a philosopher, their mother, who died before the story starts, was a writer, while Cassandra is a blocked writer, and Judith is a musician. More objectionable is the lack of consideration of where the family's wealth originated (unstated, but slavery built the US economy) and the narrative treatment of Conchita, the Latina housekeeper, who has no speaking part, making for an all-white script in my (admittedly feeble) white imagination.That Cassandra wants to reject convention and live permanently with her sister is a fact treated fairly respectfully by the author, who is also unjudgemental about her lesbian affairs. Unfortunately the same can't be said for Judith, who considers her partners 'beneath her' or her fiance, who represents compulsory heterosexuality in his words, actions and location in the text. Judith is underdeveloped as a character, and her fiance is barely more than a cipher. Grandmother represents convention and tradition, while the twins' father stands for everything unconventional that Cassandra values about her background. Judith is most interesting when she says something that inadvertently supports Cassandra's argument that the twins belong together, but her apparent misunderstanding of Cassandra's grief, even more than her desire to escape from her sister's overpowering personality, undermines it, I think. What I would have liked more of is Vera, Cassandra's 'irresistible' analyst. Eisenberg's afterword is pleased with the harsh advice she throws at her about finding a way to live, but Cassandra seems not to register it. When she allows herself to believe that Vera's dramatic and excessive reaction to Cassandra's plight was self-interested, I can't tell whether she is deceiving herself to survive the hurt of a second rejection, or she really believes it. In any case, I was left wishing for a story that didn't leave love between women still beyond the pale.

  • Chiara Sono sempre vissuta nel castello
    2019-04-02 20:12

    E come sempre sono i libri in cui ripongo meno fiducia che mi sorprendo e amo di più. Inizio dicendo che è uscito un anno prima della Campana di vetro di Sylvia Plath, e credetemi,le tematiche sono simili ma questo è scritto molto meglio Ci sono due grandi tematiche in questo romanzo, una è la simbiosi e l'attaccamento che può instaurarsi tra due famigliari, in questo caso una simbiosi estrema perché le due protagoniste sono due sorelle gemelle identiche (monozigoti), e l'altra invece è la domanda che ogni essere umano si pone, cioè "perchè vivere?"È un libro profondamente psicologico, Cassandra, la sorella "ribelle", non riesce ad adattarsi alla vita, è senza scopo se non quello di amare la sua gemella, Judy invece sa che non potrà mai essere felice se non riuscirà ad avere una vita separata e sua. È una narrazione scritta in modo magistrale, ricca di citazioni filosofiche e mai banale, è uno stile bello da leggere, elaborato e interessante.

  • Bert
    2019-04-20 11:57

    Such a brilliant novel! Effortless and smart, does that mix of dark and blase so well, with that kinda preppy but cynical bohemianism of Salinger. Loved it.

  • Sian Lile-Pastore
    2019-04-01 11:50

    I really liked this... published in 1962 with a great sense of place and a wonderful narrative voice, 'cassandra at the wedding' is charming, smart, sad and funny. Perhaps more witty and smart than funny, it's not laugh out loud funny, here's a quote so you can see what I mean: '"I think I'll tell you something I wasn't ever going to tell you," she said, and I knew by her face it was important. Also by how long it took her to follow it up. But she did finally."It's about Jack," she said. "He doesn't care much at all about music. 'Clair de Lune', and that's it."There have been barroom confessions before, but not like this. I was stunned. My own brother-in-law."Gee", I said. It was all I could say for a while but then I asked for details."How long have you known it?""Almost from the start. But I just couldn't do anything about it."I moaned and said, "This is terrible.""I know," Judith said, "but we love each other.""How can you?""I don't know, but we do."It's about twins cassandra and judith and the impending marriage of judith to a nice doctor. It's initially told by the brilliant and troubled Cassandra and then half way through swaps to the more measured and sane Judith. It's a book about family, death, happiness, being a twin and growing up, I thought it was fantastic and I'd be happy to read it again. Carson McCullers said that even though her regular bed time was ten o'clock (half an hour earlier than mine) she stayed up all night reading this book, so y'kno, me and Carson like this.x

  • julieta
    2019-04-15 14:11

    I have to confess that the reasons that lead me to read this book were kind of personal. I have a tendency to become infatuated with certain publishers, and I have a big crush on NYRB. All the books I have read have been incredible discoveries, and I love their translation, even their introductions and afterwords in the novels they publish.The second reason is because I am a twin, and I am always looking for a good twin story, which don't really come by much. So I read it for very different reasons, but then I was surprised by Dorothy Baker, by her great writing, even if the story of the twins itself was kind of, how should I put it, unrealistic. But that's silly, twins experience things in such a different way, and this is just the fictionalization of one experience. I just felt it so very far away from anything I have felt, but at the same time this rejection I felt is maybe that she, in her way, is touching something close to home. Yes, maybe I have twin issues.Then there is her great writing. She really could tell me just about anything, and I'd be pretty impressed on the rhythm, on how very much on it she is, nothing sticks out, it's just great and talented writing. Totally enjoyable, and recommended.

  • Tony
    2019-04-06 14:05

    CASSANDRA AT THE WEDDING. (1962). Dorothy Baker. ****. The Edwards girls are identical twins – Judith (Jude) and Cassandra (Cass). They were both born and raised on a ranch in the foothills of the Sierras in southern California. Judith still lives at home, but has announced her plans to marry a young man who is about to enter into his internship to complete his M.D. Cassandra is a student teacher at Berkeley, working on completing her doctoral thesis. Their mother died years ago and the girls were raised by their grandmother, whose values were right out of TV family sitcoms, and their father, a retired professor of philosophy. Although the two girls were identical, they forcibly resisted their grandmother’s urging to dress and act alike, and, it turned out, forced them to become somewhat estranged. Cass has to go to the wedding and act as the only bridesmaid. She gets there a day earlier than expected and proceeds to do her best to block the great event. In her mind, the marriage would drive the final stake between her and her sister. It is almost immediately obvious that Cass has mental and emotional problems. She has been consulting a psychiatrist for a long time to try and overcome those problems. The problems all seem to be related to her search for identity – an identity that would be separate from her sister. In this novel, we come to know the Edwards family well, learning of each of its members’ faults and tics. During the course of the next two days, we follow them as the wedding plans are developed and as Cass takes one final step to have her own way over the rest of the family’s wishes. This is a strong story of intra-family relationships and of Cass’s ultimate need to face her own demons. Recommended.

  • Romina
    2019-04-12 17:04

    Cassandra al matrimonioE’ un libro commovente sulla famiglia, sui conflitti e sulle dolcezze che accompagnano i nostri rapporti.In Cassandra al matrimonio si affrontano molti temi tra cui il tema del doppio infatti, quello dell'impossibilità di essere se stessi, quando nel mondo esiste un individuo come te.Il tema dell’amore, l’amore ossessivo tra sorelle, l’amore del padre e della nonna. Tocca temi come quello della morte, la madre che muore lasciando un vuoto enorme, incolmabile, e il tentato suicidio della protagonista.L’amore che Cassandra nutre per la sorella è un amore morboso, incondizionato. L’annuncio del matrimonio della sorella lo vive come un lutto, un tradimento, tanto da arrivare a tentare di suicidarsi perché per lei impensabile vivere separata da Judith.E’ scritto molto bene, anche se ho trovato la prima parte molto lenta, la seconda e la terza invece emozionante. E’ un romanzo scritto nel 1965, ma attuale nei temi

  • Leggendolibri
    2019-03-23 13:15

    Favoloso in tutta la sua crudeltà...

  • JacquiWine
    2019-03-23 14:58

    Cassandra at the Wedding (first published in 1962) will make my end-of-year highlights, no doubt about it. As this novel opens, Cassandra Edwards, a graduate student at Berkeley, is preparing to drive home to her family’s ranch for the wedding of her identical twin sister, Judith. From the opening pages, she seems in two minds as to whether to take the trip, and as she looks at the Golden Gate Bridge, we begin to sense that something is desperately wrong:Besides, my guide assures me that I am not, at heart, a jumper; it’s not my sort of thing. I’m given to conjecture only, and to restlessness, and I think I knew all the time I was sizing up the bridge that the strong possibility was I’d go home, attend my sister’s wedding as invited… (pg 4, NYRB Classics)Cassandra narrates the first section of the novel, and as she travels home we learn more of her relationship with Judith. The two twins used to share an apartment in Berkeley and seemed inseparable, content to live their lives for each other with little need for outsiders. But then Judith departed for New York leaving Cassandra cut adrift and in a state of procrastination over her thesis on French novels. In this respect, Cassandra is also living in the shadow of her deceased mother, Jane, a famous writer and influential figure in the twin’s lives.Identity is a key theme in this novel. As the twins were growing up, their parents, Jane in particular, refused to have the girls dress alike. And as Cassandra tells her grandmother (at a later stage in the novel) “they were concerned to have us become individuals, each of us in our own right, and not be confused in ourselves, nor confusing to other people.” (pg. 65)But despite her parents’ best efforts there are hints that Cassandra is losing a sense of her own identity. During her journey home, Cassandra stops as a bar and catches her face in the mirror, and at first she sees the face of Judith looking at her very thoughtfully:By a firm act of will I forced the face between the shelves to stop becoming Judith’s and become mine. My very own face – the face of a nice girl preparing to be a teacher, writing a thesis, being kind to her grandmother, going home a day early instead of a day late or the day I said, and bringing something decent to wear. But it can give me a turn, that face, any time I happen to catch it in a mirror; most particularly at times like this when I’m alone and have to admit it’s really mine because there’s no one else to accuse. (pg. 8)To read the rest of my review, please click here:

  • Lisa
    2019-03-20 17:04

    Quirky, nervy little book with wonderful characterizations. Made me think of Chekhov a bit, those slightly fraught, flawed characters and the way your sympathy for them sneaks up on you. Cassandra is a lovely character. Well, they all are, even if Judith is a bit bland -- but she's supposed to be, so it's OK. And you end up sympathizing with her for just having had to grow up in the shadow of her sister's wacky brilliance.The Aristophanes connection is accurate, but it's also kind of simplistic -- the book is about a lot more than just the rending of the one from the one true love. There's a whole lot about family -- how it gets pulled apart, the traps parents set for their children (that whole "we don't need other people" ethos they grew up with), young people trying to pull away and find their own identities in the face of such an overbearing family unit. I got a very strong feeling of someone in middle age musing about what it is to be young, that period of time before your sense of your own self has settled in. Baker would have been what, in her 50s when she wrote this? It's definitely a mature gaze on events, even though the story is told in Cassandra's voice.

  • Jessica
    2019-04-08 19:53

    Tightly written with a very well-drawn protagonist, Cassandra at the Wedding is worth reading even if it is a bit dated in some (not all) of its psychological themes. I almost didn't read it for suspicion of any writer who would name her protagonist "Cassandra," but you get over it.The premise is that Cassandra, one half of identical twins, is preparing to attend - and hoping to thwart - the sudden wedding of her sister Judith. Cassandra is gay (although references to this are oblique, probably because this was first published in 1962). She also feels that she and Judith are meant to spend their lives together in symbiosis, living wholly outside of social convention. The twins had always resisted dressing alike, in line with their intellectual parents' insistence that it would inhibit their development as individuals. Now Judith was marrying, partly in an effort to sever herself from the tortured Cassandra, plunging instead into her wifely role. But you get the sense that Judith loses her individuality either way - either to Cassandra or to convention, while Cassandra, despite her obsessive dependence on Judith, can envision alternative ways to live and exist and is probably the only one of the two who really developed the kind of independence of thought her parents valued. She's also nuts. In novelistic tradition, Cassandra's marginal way of thinking is partly expressed as insanity, and the barriers to living as she would want to does make her a danger to herself (and irritating / infuriating at times). But she is smart and wry and charming, too, and a character you want to get to know. Also ubiquitous in the book is the easy materialism in which this family thrives - mom was a writer and dad's a philosopher who retired early from academia. They drink top-shelf booze, drive fancy cars, and spend quite a lot of time in the large swimming pool out back. Not quite sure where this fits in, but no one in the story seems too conflicted about it. The best thing about Cassandra at the Wedding may have been discovering the New York Review Books series, published by the NY Review of Books, which has revived what appears to be a fine selection of writing that was widely read and viewed as important when it was published but has fallen out of publication. I'll definitely be picking up others from this series.

  • Janet
    2019-04-06 17:50

    To me this was a difficult read because of the subject matters of madness and twins. My grandmother was part of a twin and mad as a hatter. Her entire life she threatened to commit suicide, an act she ultimately managed to complete when I was a young girl of twelve. My mother and her sister were terrified of her and so were my sister and I. She could be lovely at times but she could be so manipulative that it made your blood run cold.As a result of this I became very interested in psychology as an adolescent. I love to read about slightly or completely unhinged characters and all sorts of mental illnesses. This book came very close to my own fears and was therefore hard to finish. Baker comes up with fascinating views on twins and their struggle to grow up as individuals. Cassandra's manipulative character will stay with me in remembrance of my grandmother.

  • Kittaroo
    2019-04-08 12:49

    Veramente bello. Comprato al SalTo15 perché in sconto, confesso, mi é davvero piaciuto tanto. Scritto con uno stile tagliente e sarcastico, così moderno da sembrare frutto di un autore contemporaneo. La storia, che si svolge nell'arco di poche giornate, di due gemelle, una che non vuole né può vivere senza l'altra, Cassandra, appunto, e l'altra che da questo rapporto morboso é soffocata, così come dalla bizzarra ed intellettualmente snobbissima famiglia.Nonostante la brevità del romanzo, la scrittura della Baker ci mostra i personaggi in modo così preciso, anatomico, quasi, da farci partecipare alle vicende in prima persona. Il romanzo rimane apertissimo, non sappiamo, in realtà, cosa accadrà nella vita delle due sorelle, ma ne abbiamo intravisto abbastanza da farcele conoscere, amare o detestare, molto intimamente.

  • Christy
    2019-04-05 16:18

    The perfect airplane read for a person en route to a wedding, this tautly written 1962 novel about a woman falling apart, coming home to her family’s ranch to derail her twin sister’s wedding. That’s the summary – but obviously it’s about so much more: about the nature of love and obsession, about identity and the self. It’s a novel filled with light and despair, anguish and pathos and extreme feeling. It made me think of the film "Rachel’s Getting Married", another story of a conniving, distraught sister and the issues of family history, responsibilities, and relationships that spark and collide at significant events. I wholly agree with the reviewer calling Cassandra at the Wedding a modern American classic.

  • Jacob
    2019-04-01 20:16

    July 2012I read The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin last month, but I kept getting stuck (it's the longest short book I've ever read), so to distract myself I started working through my NYRB collection instead.There may have been a conflict of interest there.

  • rosamund
    2019-04-06 17:08

    Cassandra and her twin, Judith, have always been very close, but when Judith moves to the other side of the country, and decides to marry, their relationship seems impossibly fractured. Cassandra is a fantastic character: at 24, she is a mixture of assertive and naive as she struggles to navigate the world without her sister and cope with her depression. Baker's writing on depression is amazingly, heart-breakingly astute. I was completely floored by this novel. It's sparsely populated, but each character -- Cassandra, Judith, their father and grandmother -- are so full of life and vigour. It's a privilege to get to know them even as we are sucked into sadness and despair. This book is so complex -- it's so hard to end literary fiction satisfyingly without being either cloying or disappointing, but Baker manages to create an emotionally-savvy plot that doesn't stumble once. This book should be read by everyone.

  • John
    2019-04-02 13:49

    Contents:1. Cassandra Speaks2. Judith Speaks3. Cassandra Speaks4. Afterword by Deborah Eisenberg“Cassandra” is one of the identical twins, on the surface the "stronger" of the two, the other is Judith, who's wedding to Jack is central to the story. Physically identical they may be but that's as far as it goes: the sisters are quite different, their sexual preferences to begin with. Much of the 'action' is set on the family's ranch in the foothills of the Sierras. As a character Cassandra is something of an acquired taste which I failed entirely to acquire. Her reaction to Judith's plans to marry reminded me of Virginia Woolf's when told that her sister Vanessa was going to marry. The selfish dependence on another to be their alter ego.I really had to take deep breaths whilst reading it in order to keep right on to the end of the road (fortunately it is not a long book). The middle part, “Judith Speaks”, was more anchored in terra firma and the sisters' reflections on each other and twinship is clever. But the overriding memory for me is an intense dislike of the manipulating, selfish Cassandra.Published in 1962 and regarded by Ms Eisenberg as a classic which should never be out of print I keep wondering what Virginia Woolf would have made of it!The best thing about the book for me is its lovely cover, part of a 1953 painting by David Park, to whose memory Dorothy Baker dedicates her book. This helped to fix my score at 3 *s

  • Brina
    2019-03-26 15:49

    Auf "Zwei Schwestern" von Dorothy Baker war ich ganz besonders gespannt, denn bislang habe ich viele Meinungen gehört, die doch sehr weit auseinander gingen, von daher wollte ich unbedingt herausfinden, wie mir das Buch gefallen wird. Jetzt, nachdem ich das Buch beendet habe, muss ich dann doch leider sagen, dass ich eher zu den Menschen gehöre, die von dem Buch eher weniger begeistert sind.Man merkt dem Buch bereits auf den ersten Seiten an, dass es schon viele Jahre auf dem Buckel hat, denn die Autorin ist bereits vor fast fünfzig Jahren verstorben, sodass man schnell merkt, dass die Sprache nicht allzu modern ist. Dies kann man mögen, ich habe mich hierbei allerdings auf etwas vollkommen anderes eingestellt. Allerdings bedeutet dies nicht, dass der Schreibstil schlecht ist, denn die Autorin konnte definitiv schreiben, das Problem ist jedoch, dass in der Geschichte meiner Meinung nach viel zu wenig geschehen ist.Hierbei wird die Geschichte der Zwillingsschwestern Cassandra und Judith erzählt. Während Judith ihr eigenes Leben lebt und in Kürze einen Arzt heiraten möchte, will Cassandra, die Judith am liebsten ständig kontrollieren möchte, die Hochzeit unbedingt verhindern, da sie Judiths zukünftigen Ehemann als unwürdig ansieht. Dabei wird die Geschichte oftmals sehr schonungslos erzählt, nimmt allerdings erst viel zu spät an Fahrt auf.Mit 280 Seiten ist das Buch noch verhältnismäßig dünn, sodass man eigentlich davon ausgehen darf, dass hier auf wenigen Seiten viel passieren muss, doch dies ist leider nicht der Fall, denn die Geschichte hat durchaus ihre Längen, sodass ich mich häufiger dabei erwischt habe, wie ich immer wieder vorgeblättert habe, um zu schauen, wann das Kapitel zuende ist, was bei mir normalerweise nur sehr, sehr selten vorkommt.Insgesamt ist "Zwei Schwestern" eine gut durchdachte Geschichte, die allerdings viel zu viele Längen hat und einen recht eigenwilligen Schreibstil besitzt, sodass ich hier nicht immer meinen Spaß mit hatte. Dennoch: Wer ein Fable für Familiengeschichten hat, sollte "Zwei Schwestern" eine Chance geben.

  • Eleanor
    2019-04-17 15:13

    This book has a lot of potential and falls a bit short. Or rather, the character Cassandra has a lot of potential because she's a bitter, queer intellectual, but falls a bit short and is, shall we say it bluntly, annoying and immature. This writing is engaging and very well done and this books a quick read, but the characters grated on me. This book fits into a similar category as "The Dud Avocado" or much of Joan Didion's work. Written in the 1960's it's about privileged white women who never have to think about their privilege and accept it as it is (like Granny's charge account at a fancy department story in Cassandra's case) and talk about social convention they want to fly in the face of, but at the same time totally buy into and take for granted. Somehow, I like some of Didion and "The Dud Avocado" more.

  • Philip Fracassi
    2019-03-21 16:56

    This book is MESSED UP. I mean, what a riot this thing is. The people in the book are weird, but in a way deep down sense. You don't really understand why they're such a strange family, it just kind of dawns on you as you go how very, very f*d up they are. Way big time so. Although a bit of a period piece because of when it was written the story itself is timeless and unique at the same time - one of the best compliments I can give any story.I loved it so much I bought a few of her other titles (there are not many) and will be sure to let you know how that goes. In the meantime, pick up this book and read it - just not before a wedding.

  • Don
    2019-04-09 16:03

    Reading this book, I couldn't help but think of 'Catcher in the Rye', which I hated, and how much better this is. Now, 'Cassandra at the Wedding' is not very similar to 'Catcher in the Rye', but they share enough similarities for my mind to be stuck on the comparison.The other comparison I made was with the documentary 'The Bridge', which captures and explores people killing themselves by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.Anyway, I highly recommend this book. I can only imagine how exciting it would have been to read it in the early 60's when it was first published, and I wonder, now, if anyone has bothered to add it to the canon of LGBT fiction, where it belongs.