How far would you go to save your loved one from the law and public eye when you know they are guilty? Would your stance change if it was only you that knew they were guilty? Well, the Dinner is based on this dilemma and much more.
The Dinner begins with two brothers (Paul the narrator and his brother Serge Lohman), and their respective wives (Claire and Babette) meeting for a dinner at a high end restaurant. Though most of their dinner conversations are polite and filled with small talks, they have gathered to talk about something very serious – regarding their sons and their recent activities.
Between courses of the meal, they talk about everything under the sun from movies to relationships. They welcome external interruptions, try to undermine each other, as dysfunctional families do, and anything to avoid discussing the acts of their fifteen year old sons.
When they finally open the topic, the true nature of the parents and the distance they would go to protect the children surface.
What their sons did and how their parents decide to handle the situation during and after the dinner forms the rest of the story in the Dinner
My initial thoughts
I began reading the Dinner by hating the narrator’s pretentious elder brother and then realize one by one that each of the characters are wile and truly wicked. I think the strength of the author lies on the fact that the shift happened so subtly that you never see it coming.
As someone who is not a “foodie” and does not really understand the fad about over highly priced food, I am totally with Paul’s hilarious commentary about all the pompousness associated and his brother’s pretentiousness.
The Dinner doesn’t shy away from talking about the dark and disgusting side of humanity and discusses taboo topics like the pressure to seem like a “perfect happy family”, mental illness and dehumanizing others based on labels etc
Things that worked for me
Every character is flawed and their gray shade made the book more interesting.
If you like biased and unreliable narrators, then you are in for a treat.
The writing and pacing are so well done that I grew as impatient as Paul at the many interruptions that kept them from discussing the topic at hand.
Things that didn’t work for me
If you are looking for a book with like-able characters, the Dinner is not for you.
The Dinner might seem unbelievable to happen in real world if you truly think that humans can’t be morally reprehensible. You will be shocked.
Do you ever give a book a second chance? I mean quite literally – like you read the first time and you don’t like it, but then you give it another chance and ending up appreciating it more? Well, that is what happened with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.
About the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Book Name: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Plot summary of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Christopher John Francis Boone, a fifteen year old kid on the Autism/Asperger’s spectrum, is on a mission to find out who murdered his neighbour’s dog, Sherlock Holmes’ style. While he has a gift for math, he has difficulty reading other people’s emotion and hates being touched.
His father finds it difficult to understand his needs. His mother did it all for him until she died suddenly and now they are left to fend for themselves. Did he find the murderer? What happened to his mother? Read the rest of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time to know more.
Book review of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Do you remember a while ago I made a decision to focus on reading more classics this year? Well, I am definitely sticking to it, more or less. I am happy to announce that there are 7 classics of the 28 books I have read as on date. It seems to me that reading them is a lot simpler than reviewing classics.
Classics with little boys in them
This month on review shots I have picked up three classics that have little boys as one of their main characters. So let us get on with it shall we?
This rags to riches children classics revolves around Cedric and his family. His mother and the seven year old Cedric are one of those nice, kind and goody good people who barely make their ends meet in New York City. He is found to the inheritor to earldom in England and his newly found grandfather invites them back home. The grumpy, stubborn Earl already dislikes them even before he meets them.
How the charming boy turns the misanthropic grandfather around forms the rest of the story. I read Little Lord Fauntleroy as a part of the children’s classics challenge and surprisingly have never read it before.
It is always difficult to review a children’s book given that we are not the target audience. Despite that, I enjoyed this book and it would still be suitable for kids even in the current age.
This is one of the classic horror stories with a twist. When a young governess is given a chance to run a forlorn estate and teach two young and lovely children she decides to do her best. Troubles begin when the young boy is expelled from the school and she starts seeing a shadow man. Smitten by the master of the house and in an attempt to appear competent she decides to solve things by herself.
It appears that there are two dark creatures that want her innocent students and the estate’s haunting past makes it difficult for her to believe it is all her imagination. To make matters worst, the children seem to enjoy these visits and do not seem as innocent as she thought they were. How does she escape the nightmare and does she win in safe keeping the kids form the rest of the story.
I loved the ending that left things for the reader to decide if indeed the haunting was true or it is just an attention seeking behavior of the lonely and lovesick governess. The Turn of the Screw might be tedious read and frankly I was happy that it was a short story, I might have given up if it were any longer.
Final thought: Despite the intriguing story the writing seemed too tedious to enjoy
The Giver is set in a dystopian world where everyone is assigned a job that they are good at when they turn twelve. This perfect world is devoid of colors, emotions and free will. Except for Jonas, who is chosen as the Giver, the receiver of memories – basically the only one who can question anything in the society.
But when he realizes what people are denied in seeking this apparent utopia, Jonas has a change of mind, He is ready to give up his assigned family and his prestigious role in the society to have a real life. What happens further and did he escape his society forms the rest of the book.
I read The Giver as a part of the Banned book club and I was surprised on why it was banned. While I liked the premise of the book I didn’t end up loving it, like many of my friends did. I understand that this is just the first part of the Giver Quartet and that might be a reason why it was such an underwhelming read for me.
Final thought: Short novel with bits of sci-fi element to it.
Recommended to: Science fiction lovers
Have you read any of these books? What was the last classic you read recently? Do you push yourself to finish a classic even if you don’t enjoy it? Let us chat.
The Woman in the Window is a book that everyone I know has read and reviewed already. So when my book club chose this one as our March BOTM I knew I had to read it. And having been focusing on the classics until now this year, I loved the chance of reading a contemporary thriller. So let us check how that turned out shall we?
Dr. Anna Fox, a child psychologist suffering from agoraphobia, has not left her house for almost a year now. Her daily routine includes drinking a lot of wine while being highly medicated, watching retro movies and peeking into her neighbours’ house through their respective windows. Her life is fairly “usual” until the Russells move into her neighbourhood.
Soon they become her new obsession, especially their young son, Ethan. But when she sees something untoward happening at her nieghbours’ she has no grounds to report about it. How she proves that she did not hallucinate and finds out the culprit form the rest of the story in The Woman in the Window.
My initial thoughts
Though a little long winded in the first half of the book, The Woman in the Window kept me fully entertained. The author takes a lot of time to get us into her world but once you get past the draggy first 100 pages, the pace fastens and the book turns unputdownable.
If you have read as many thrillers as I have done or more, you will find the twists coming a mile away. Anna is not a protagonist that I liked or related to, but I think that is what the author was going for – an unreliable narrator with ‘the whole should I believe or not’ vibe. And maybe that is why there are a lot of comparison with the Girl on the Train, and rightly so.
Things that worked for me
Despite the predictability, The Woman in the Window kept me hooked with its short chapters and fast pace (the second part).
There are quite a number of twists to keep the readers on their toes sprinkled all through the book.
Things that didn’t work for me
As I already mentioned, The Woman in the Window is totally predictable and it takes quite a while for something to actually happen.
I didn’t relate to any of the characters in the story, and the narrator was borderline annoying.
The Woman in the Window might be old wine in a new bottle but will keep you occupied in a pinch, and might even turn to be unputdownable. With the movie version coming before the end of the year, you might wanna read it already.
Let us chat
Have you read this one? Does predictability spoil the fun for you in a thriller? If not, what turns you off in a thriller? Let us talk.
It was for me, at least. I mean what is there to not like in them, right? RIGHT?
Well, my so called friends (am seriously reconsidering my allies here!) gave me bunch of reasons to support, which I begrudgingly have to accept, that the unreliable narrators might not be for everyone.
But I am sure there is at least one kind of unreliable narrator that each of us like. They are not all the same!!!
Types of unreliable narrators
Yes today I am gonna talk about the kinds of unreliable narrators that we usually find in fictional world and why they are so important in their books. Ready for the ride?
Unreliable narrators that are naïve
Okay not totally naïve but they can’t help it. For some reason they are not fully aware of what is happening to/around them, maybe by their own doing or not.
For example, Jack from the Room was inside the shed for years before he was broken out and seeing the world with the innocence of a young boy is definitely not reliable.
Unreliable narrators whose perception is misleading
There are many characters that fall into this category in the recent times. Christopher Boone from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, for instance, cannot be taken at his face value, as he on the Asperger’s / Autistic spectrum and his understanding of things is quite literal and lacks depth.
Patrick Peoples from The Silver Linings Playbook and Charlie from the Perks of being a wallpaper have repressed memories, while Rachel from the girl on the train has been under the influence of alcohol almost the entire time of the story.
And these books largely depend on these narrators and otherwise would have been another run of the mill novel.
Unreliable narrators that hold back information
Omitting to state the facts is also kinda lying, of course. But Eva does that so well in We need to talk about Kevin. The whole books is written in the form of letters to her estranged husband and she talks about everything but why Kevin did what he did (mass shooting at his school) and if she did enough to prevent that from happening.
I recently read the Woman in the Window for my book club and found that Dr Anna Fox holds back a lot from others and the reader as well. Well, on a happier note that backfires right at her and that plays so well into holding the suspense to the story.
Unreliable narrators that outright lie and manipulate
These are my favorite kind of unreliable narrators!
Man, they toy with us and mislead us perfectly into their trap without breaking a sweat. Take Patrick from American Psycho, he is suave, well read and smart and he commits gruesome murders with a finesse (or not!). His unreliability is the only thing that left us questioning the reality at the end.
I love Gone Girl and I adore Gillian Flynn‘s writing and her unreliable characters (yes there are many). Nick and Amy seem sincere and innocent until we start unraveling their traps and deceit. I mean talk about the plot twists these unreliable narrators provide.
Yes, they misrepresent facts, break our trusts and some time lie to our faces even. But so what?
I mean what narrator is truly objective and trustworthy! They all talk about the things they believe are true. So what if these narrators add a bit of bias, color the truth or even hold stuff back from the reader? They are as amazing as their lying conniving selves they can be, to me!