Rummanah Aasi
 The Dinner is one of those books that you will either love or hate. The book was a huge bestseller in Europe last year and when it was brought to the U.S. it was dubbed "the European Gone Girl". Though I can see similarities between both books, The Dinner stands on its own and will generate immediate reactions once you are finished with it.

Description: A summer's evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness - the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.
  Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. Together, the boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on camera, and their grainy images have been beamed into living rooms across the nation; despite a police manhunt, the boys remain unidentified - by everyone except their parents. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children and, as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Review: The Dinner is a chilling novel starts out as a witty look at contemporary manners and social class before slowly turning into a I-can't-believe-the story-went there psychological thriller. As the title suggests, plot unfolds over the time over a dinner between the Lohman brothers, unemployed teacher Paul and politician Serge, a candidate for prime minister, meet at an expensive Amsterdam restaurant, along with their respective spouses, Claire and Babette, to discuss a situation involving their respective 15-year-old sons, Michel and Rick. At first, the two couples discuss such pleasantries as wine and other chit chat cleverly avoiding the reason why all four adults have come together. The  five-course dinner, from aperitif (i.e. appetizer) to digestif (i.e. dessert/coffee), we get to see the true aspects of the characters and the secrets that come out which will threaten relations between the two families. I don't want to say much more because that would spoil the suspense and the twisted plot turns, which slowly strips away layers of civility to expose the primal depths of supposedly model citizens, not to mention one character's past history of mental illness and violence. There is lots of dark humor in The Dinner and I would even go as far as saying it could be labeled as a satire about the lengths to which people will go to preserve a comfortable way of life. Though you may not find any redeemable characters and an unreliable narrator, you will be hooked once you start The Dinner. I would highly recommend it for a book club discussion.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language and scenes of violence. Recommended for older, mature teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: Defending Jacob by William Landay, God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
1 Response
  1. I would like this one, I just finished We Were Liars and I love twisty, strange reads. I will add this to my list for Fall.

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