Rarely have I been so enthused to read about wretched people being awful to each other. Shipstead does a remarkable job making me want to know more about characters , to the point that I found myself thinking about them when not reading and was genuinely eager to pick up the book again whenever I put it down. She has a delightful turn of phrase, and while certain characters were awful enough that I never quite felt sympathy
for them, Shipstead made me understand how they came to be who they were and why their awful decisions made complete sense for them. And I mean awful in the "you are a terrible parent who is emotionally stunting your children in the same way your parents did to you" way, not the mass murdering/wolf of wall street/physically abusive sort of way.
This book is like the drawing room comedy of manners upper class wedding shenanigans of a Regency romance, only modern and, for lack of a better word, "realer." The prejudices, crappy parenting, insecurities, and lack of neatly tied up spit polished happy ending is out in full force. Also there's a dead whale. Like you do.