The Dinner was a huge hit when it was published a few years ago, but I never got around to reading it. However, I'm always intrigued by books in translation, and now that I'm living in Europe, I feel like I should read more Euro-centric reading, which is partly why I signed up for the European Reading Challenge. The base library has a decent selection which included this book (which I've actually checked out several times before I finally took a crack at it the other day.
I don't want to give away too much of the plot, as there are some pretty big reveals and twists in this book, as there are some real shockers. Set in Holland a couple of years ago, this is the story of two couples having dinner together, ostensibly to discuss their respective teenage sons and a particular troubling incident. Most of the action take place during one evening at an upscale restaurant, with a number of flashbacks, and we get a lot of insight into the narrator, Paul, and his family dynamic. It raises a lot of questions about parenting, marriage, and personal responsibility. This is definitely a book that I would love to discuss with someone but I don't want to reveal too much -- a major plot point was actually spoiled for me while I was searching for books set in the Netherlands. I thought that would ruin the book for me but there's so much going on it actually didn't, though I definitely would have preferred not knowing ahead of time.
It's not a very long book, but there's a lot happening, some of it quite shocking. It's one of those books like Gone Girl or Girl on the Train that would be great for a book discussion group (though it's definitely far superior and more plausible than either of those.) Once I got started, I could hardly put it down because I needed to find out what happened, and I was easily able to finish it in a few hours. However, once I was done I wanted to return it to the library right away because it made me really uncomfortable having it around. How far should people go to protect their children, and where do you draw the line at personal responsibility? This book was really insightful in parts, but it's also quite disturbing. However, I am glad that I read it.
I'm counting this as my book set in the Netherlands for the European Reading Challenge.
I've been meaning to read this one. By your description, it sounds like it's right up my alley, so I'll have to make a point to pick it up this year.ReplyDelete
It is definitely thought-provoking. Also fairly short, so it's a quick read.Delete
I enjoyed The Dinner but found it far inferior to We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. The next time you're looking for something in that vein, I highly recommend it.ReplyDelete
I haven't read We Need to Talk About Kevin but I know a bit about the plot so I did wonder whether they were similar. I haven't read anything by Lionel Shriver so I'll have to look for it the next time I'm in a mood for something contemporary.Delete
I really thought this was a good book too. I read it with a GoodReads group--we chat Tuesday nights via Twitter (Tuesday Book Talk), and it was fun to discuss it during the course of a month as the plot and characters slowly unfolded. Interesting to see how our accurate (or not!) our guesses were regarding what was going on.ReplyDelete