Review: Testimony

I have been a fan of Anita Shreve since reading ‘The Pilot’s Wife’ (Oprah selection) in the late 90’s. I might go as far as saying she is one of my favorite authors. This book was good but not nearly as good as some of her past books such as 'Resistance', 'The Pilot’s Wife' or 'Fortune's Rock'. As always she tells a good story that has some good thought provoking conversational undertones to it.

The book begins with the school master receiving a tape – what’s on the tape changes the lives of many people. A moment of wild abandon sweeps through the entire school, their families, and the community in which they live.

Told by 22 characters, this story begins with the fateful moment and then takes you back in time to explain the events leading up to the moment and forward to lay out the consequences.

The idea for this story is good but I had a hard time connecting to any of the characters, it was challenging reading over 20 views of the event and piecing everything together.

Visit Anita Shreve’s website to listen to an interview and watch video footage discussing the origins of 'Testimony'.

Awards include the PEN/L. L. Winship Award and the New England Book Award for fiction

Excerpt from an author interview:

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I sort of felt it all along except that, you know, in my family I was encouraged to do something more practical. So I don't think I ever thought about it realistically when I graduated from Tufts.

The New England setting is a constant in your books. Is that because you live here and grew up here, in Dedham?
To an extent. My books do reflect their geography and a New England character, if there is one. I think my characters are all very drawn to the sea. Very drawn to nature. Observant. Somewhat dignified. Prone to disaster — emotional disaster.

The Pilot's Wife was selected for Oprah's Book Club. How did you get the news?
I was out, and when I got back to my office I saw I had all these missed calls. It was Oprah's assistant, and he was pretending to be part of a small literary group in Chicago. When I called back, he said, "My boss wants to speak to you." The next thing I knew, Oprah was on the other end of the line; her voice is unmistakable. She just said, "Anita." I responded, "Hello." Then she said, "I loved your book." I said, "Thank you."

Type: Fiction, 320 pages, hardcover

At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices--those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal--that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her own greatest work, Anita Shreve delivers in TESTIMONY a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller. No one more compellingly explores the dark impulses that sway the lives of seeming innocents, the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas, and the ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions.


“Shreve writes crisp, evocative sentences that can pierce like shards of fine glass” – Entertainment Weekly

“Once again Anita Shreve delivers an elegant novel with betrayal at its core… an often lovely read.” – New York Daily News