All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Dinner At Rose’s – Danielle Hawkins

on December 16, 2013

Dinner At Rose'sDinner At Rose’s
Danielle Hawkins
Allen & Unwin
2012, 416p
Bought for my Kindle

After arriving home and finding her longtime boyfriend engaged in sexual activities with her best friend on a chair, physiotherapist Jo Donnelly flees Melbourne for the safety of her country New Zealand hometown. She fills in for the local, an old friend who is going on maternity leave and finds a share house to live in. But things aren’t exactly fabulous – the receptionist in the clinic spends most of her time doing her nails and suffering from a runny nose and one of Jo’s housemates watches non stop reality TV and follows Jo around switching off lights and making sure she only boils the kettle with enough water in it for one cup of tea.

Jo’s honourary Aunt Rose is a bright spot in her life. Fabulously eccentric with her pet pig, her odd cooking inclinations and a wonderful sense of humour, she’s been a part of Jo’s life for a long time and Jo adores her. When Rose is diagnosed with a horrible illness Jo gives up the share house to move back in with her and take care of her as she embarks upon a grueling regime in order to try and combat it. This brings her even closer to Rose’s bona fide nephew Matthew. Jo and Matthew were best friends growing up, each having crushes on the other at various stages but with those stages never coinciding. A few years ago the planets aligned briefly for one night before Matthew went overseas and not long after Jo left for Melbourne and met her boyfriend who would become the chair acrobat.

But now the two of them are close again and with Rose wanting to see both of them sublimely happy (with each other) it’s only a matter of time before the chemistry simmering between them bubbles over.

Recently I read Danielle Hawkins’s second novel Chocolate Cake For Breakfast and loved it so immediately this one was on my radar. Recently I switched my Amazon account from the American to the new Australian store and to my surprise, this title was one of the daily deals recently and so I snatched it up and ended up reading it that same day. It’s littered with the same humour I found in her second book but this one also takes a much more serious tone, tackling an illness that many women face today with strength and bravery and the ability to still look for the positives even when the outlook is so very bad.

The characters are a shining light in this novel, from Jo and Matt right down to the slightly quirky local residents. Jo is someone we can all relate to, stalking her former best friend on facebook for the updates with her romance with Jo’s now ex-boyfriend. She’s smart and funny and very compassionate. She handles Matt’s younger teenage sister Kim with consummate ease, giving her someone to talk to that isn’t her older brother or her relatively useless mother Hazel, who flitters in and out of the story complaining about how difficult everything is for her, from teenage Kim and her rebellious antics to Rose’s growing illness. Jo’s former crush on Matt rears its head, complicated by the fact that he’s dating a local whom Jo nicknames ‘Farmer Barbie’. The scenes between Jo and Matt are so good – they know each other so well, even though they haven’t seen each other very often in the past few years and they are both able to be themselves around each other and let each other see them at their worst without it being uncomfortable. Their shared fear and grief unites them even further, fleshing out their crush into a real genuine relationship and understanding of each other.

**Please note the following paragraph does contain ***SPOILERS***

Recently I had the very unpleasant and heart wrenching experience of watching someone die for the first time in my life. It took place in a hospital so much of the caring was done by nurses and the staff but I got a pretty good look at what it is like to care for someone who is terminally ill. And it is horrible. When Jo gives up her place in the share house and moves home to care for Rose, it’s the sort of sacrifice I don’t think you can appreciate until you’ve seen what it takes yourself. And it is a sacrifice, even though those who do it would say that it isn’t. But it takes over your life and you are exposed to so many different things that you’d never otherwise see and that people would never want you to see. Rose suffers a lot with pain and other complications and side effects and she begs Jo not to remember her this way, but to remember her when she was healthy and whole and could take care of herself. Jo swears that she will and the way in which Jo copes with the task of looking after Rose is enormously admirable. She’s still working pretty much full time as well as taking care of Rose, which is almost yet another full time job in itself plus dealing with the often hysterical Kim and the condescending Hazel, who is no help at all and almost a hindrance but seems to resent Jo for doing so and believes her to be ‘wearing Rose out being a guest’ and she basically does a lot of it all on her own. Matt is a busy dairy farmer but he stops by as often as he can and helps her but there’s a lot of things he cannot do and no doubt that Rose wouldn’t want him to have to do as well. It’s such a raw and honest look at suffering and illness and the toll it takes not just on the one diagnosed but those around them too.

End spoilery paragraph

Another wonderfully written and highly enjoyable book and I’ll be watching in 2014 and hoping that Danielle Hawkins has another release.


Book #319 of 2013



6 responses to “Dinner At Rose’s – Danielle Hawkins

  1. I absolutely adored Danielle’s first novel, DINNER AT ROSE’S too, Bree. It would be one of my favourite reads. I laughed, I cried, I felt every emotion running through this book. I have just started reading CHOCOLATE CAKE FOR BREAKFAST (a copy will be offered as a giveaway on my website this week!) and am enjoying it too.
    Once again, a great review, I do enjoy reading your thoughts on books and love your eclectic taste. I’m the same!
    Merry Christmas, Bree!

    • They’re both fantastic books, aren’t they Margareta? Danielle Hawkins has been one of my favourite discoveries of 2013! I can’t wait until she has another book out for me to read. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you & your family have a wonderful Christmas as well. Looking forward to your next novel as well! 🙂

    • momina says:

      i really like the book

  2. I loved this one, great review!

  3. […] Hawkins, author of Dinner At Rose’s and Chocolate Cake For […]

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