All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

on September 19, 2018

The Dinner List 
Rebecca Serle
Allen & Unwin
2018, 273p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

We’ve been waiting for an hour.’ That’s what Audrey says. She states it with a little bit of an edge, her words just bordering on cursive. That’s the thing I think first. Not: Audrey Hepburn is at my birthday dinner, but Audrey Hepburn is annoyed.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends with in her utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day, and the life-changing romance of Me Before You. 

When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetisers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.

Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, The Dinner List is a romance for our times. Bon appetit.

This was such an interesting book and a really great take on the ‘people you’d love to invite for dinner, living or dead’ type of thing. It made me think a lot about who my five people (or however many) people would be. It’s really difficult to think of a straightforward list and whether or not I’d fill it with all people I know or take the opportunity to add in famous people, living or dead.

I have to admit, this book was different to what I expected. When you pick up a book where someone is experiencing dinner with their ‘list of five’, where one is Audrey Hepburn, I thought it would be this light and almost fluffy story but it’s much darker than I expected and there were was a very unexpected twist that I didn’t see coming until it was upon me. It was one of those things which made everything make sense and all of a sudden I felt I understood the whole thing just that little bit better.

Sabrina is 30 and lives in New York. Years ago, she and her best friend, her college roommate Jessica made the list of the 5 people that they’d invite to have dinner with if there were no restrictions and over the years, Sabrina has edited her list. She chooses Audrey Hepburn, who played her namesake character and whose movies Sabrina loves, her father who left the family when Sabrina was very young, a former college professor, her former fiancé and love of her life and of course, Jessica.

Now’s probably the time to admit I’ve never seen an Audrey Hepburn movie. I don’t watch a lot of older films (to be honest, I don’t watch a lot of movies in general) so I cannot tell if her portrayal feels accurate or if it adds something to the story that only Audrey Hepburn can. Her role was almost more of a charming facilitator that allows Sabrina to explore some of the issues she has with her guest list, particularly that of her father Robert, who left her mother and Sabrina never saw him again. This abandonment has had a great impact on her and when Robert haltingly explains his story, Sabrina often struggles to accept his version of events, especially if they contradict anything her mother has ever told her. She feels betrayed by many of Robert’s life choices and I think jealous and envious of what she missed out on, not having him as a father figure in her life.

The reason they are all there is Sabrina’s love affair with Tobias, which has been long and somewhat complicated. That they both loved each other fiercely is never in doubt but I feel as though I related very much to Sabrina’s friend Jessica’s theory of relating relationships to a garden – you need flowers to grow and you need waterers, or caretakers, to care for them and ensure that they do. Jessica describes both Sabrina and Toby as flowers, which means that neither in the relationship are nurturers so despite their deep love for each other, their relationship is not without a myriad of problems and it doesn’t mean that they were actually good for each other. The deeper the story gets into their relationship the more this seems to become apparent as they diverge in what they want and how they feel they should be moving forward the older they get. It took me a little bit to settle into the way this story was being told, but once I was there, I ended up becoming so invested in the story and I think that’s why I was ultimately so shocked, even though I probably shouldn’t have been.

Overall I enjoyed that this took me much deeper than I expected to go and I think it posed some interesting questions and theories about life and relationships and working for/at them. It’s not always enough to just let them happen – it’s so easy to drift apart from people and kind of shrug your shoulders at it and say that is what happens when people get older and things change. It can be any sort of relationship, not just a romantic one and this book explores quite a few different types. It was very well done and it made me think over a lot of things. The sort of story that sticks with you for a while after you finish it.

I’m still not 100% decided on my list! Going to have to fix that.

8/10

Book #160 of 2018

 


3 responses to “Review: The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

  1. Marg says:

    This sounds like such a good read. There are some great Audrey Hepburn films out there. My faves are Breakfast at Tiffanys and My Fair Lady!

  2. Sounds interesting. There was a discussion on Twitter the other day about who you would invite to dinner. Maybe they could do a Top Ten Tuesday on that someday!

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Audrey Hepburn movie either.

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