Book Review | The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

Authour:
Rebecca Serle
Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
September 11, 2018
Publisher:
Flatiron Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive who would you choose? Until fairly recently I had no idea, but now I can say for certain I’d want to have dinner with Anthony Bourdain, who seems incredibly worldly and down to earth, and perhaps my maternal grandfather as he seemed to have lived a remarkable life.

This question is also answered by the protagonist of Rebecca Serle’s first adult novel. In The Dinner List, Sabrina suddenly finds herself at a dinner table on her 30th birthday with a rather unusual mix of guests. There’s her best friend, her estranged father, an older professor, her ex and of course Audrey Hepburn! Interestingly enough, only two of the guests with the exception of Sabrina are alive in the present day, as the others have all passed away. This contributes to an entertaining dynamic especially as the reasons behind why each of the guests were chosen are revealed.

Almost immediately, the premise of this book had me intrigued even though I have never picked up a Rebecca Serle book before. Having the story of Sabrina’s life and relationship told through flashbacks as part of a dinner conversation was a refreshingly imaginative take on your typical “love story”. And while The Dinner List definitely has its moments, it’s honestly so much more than another relationship story. In fact, The Dinner List is not your light-hearted romantic comedy instead it’s a fairly realistic portrayal of how all relationships, not just romantic ones change and it’s when you become too comfortable that the relationship begins to break down. This is particularly glaring as we watch how Sabrina and Jessica’s friendship has changed over time as both have grown into two undeniably different people.

I’d admit that I confused the premise of The Dinner List for just another fluffy women’s fiction book and this made it initially difficult for me to become invested in Sabrina’s story. However, in the end The Dinner List turned out to be a well written novel that while bittersweet does give us some hope for our protagonist, Sabrina and her ability to finally let go and move on with her life.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Don’t I Know You? by Marni Jackson

don't knowAuthour:
Marni Jackson
Format:
E-galley
Publication date:
September 27th 2016
Publisher:
Flatiron Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Written by Canadian journalist, Marni Jackson’s Don’t I Know You? has an intriguing premise to it. Rose McEwan is an ordinary woman who lives a fairly regular life except for her various random encounters with random celebrities among them, Joni Mitchell, Meryl Streep, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Taylor Swift.

While the first chapter where Rose encounters John Uplike was weird and to be honest, slightly creepy the following chapter with Joni Mitchell made up for it although I hated how passive Rose was. This was generally the tone of the book, a few of the encounters were strange while others were charming and cute. My favorite story in the collection is, probably, Mister Softee where Rose first encounters Leonard Cohen for the first time. I loved that it concerns family and dealing with death, and while it was a simple story it was incredibly poignant. The Reading featuring Meryl Streep and Exfoliation with Gwyneth Kate Paltrow giving Rose a facial in addition to Free Love with Joni Mitchell were all memorable and were close runner-ups. And obviously the final chapter with a featuring a canoe trip that Rose takes with Leonard Cohen, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Taylor Swift stood out as the most unrealistic yet charming of all the stories in this whimsical collection.

Being a Canadian myself, I love that the author takes the time to highlight the various sights and sceneries that can be found in Canada. Thus whether intentional or not, it felt as if this collection of stories served as a homage or even a “love letter” to the country itself even if the book wasn’t completely set in Canada. Don’t I Know You? is a book that I’d recommend for those who appreciate short story collections that are slightly unusual yet charming throughout.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.