Publisher: Hogarth; 1ST edition (February 12, 2013)
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thrillers
Available here at Amazon
THE DINNER by Herman Koch~~When I was little I had to sit at the dinner table until I at least tried the stewed tomatoes. That was a horrible dinner. I hate stewed tomatoes to this day. That’s pretty much the end of my dinner story. Take the same subject, dinner, and put it in the hands of Herman Koch and you have quite a different tale.
This is a, “What would you do if it was your kid?” book. What lengths would you go through to protect them? What lengths would you go through to protect yourself?
Two brothers, Serge and Paul Lohman, and their wives, Babette and Claire, meet at a restaurant in their native Amsterdam that requires a several months long wait for reservations (unless you’re Serge Lohman) where you get served on an almost bare plate and you pay the equivalent of the price of a small car, to discuss their children. The entire book takes place over the courses of dinner from “Apéritif” to “Digestif” and the subject matter is none too appetizing.
The story is told from Paul’s perspective. Paul is an unemployed history teacher who suffers from an annoyingly unnamed psychiatric malady making him prone to act out in violent bursts. Serge is a shoe-in for Prime Minister of the Netherlands with his election looming. Between the two couples they have four children: Michel, the only son of Paul and Claire; Rick and the mildly autistic Valerie, the biological children of Serge and Babette; and, Beau, the adopted son of Serge and Babette, who came from Burkina Faso, Africa. One night, after a party, three of the four teenagers are involved in a heinous crime leaving the parents to discuss how best to handle the matter, as a family.
A completely dysfunctional family.
Many times I wanted to spit this book out just like I spit out those stewed tomatoes. Yet I kept reading. The author sometimes bored me with inane details and other times left me hungry for intentionally missing morsels of the story. Yet I kept reading. There was not one character in this book that I actually liked unless you count the poor waitress who accidentally poured TOO MUCH wine in a glass~~is there such a thing as TOO MUCH wine? Yet I kept reading. Paul is whiney and really should get an award for “Worst Parent Ever”. Second runner up for that award would be his wife, Claire. The writer intends for you to hate Serge and you really do. Until you don’t. Each time I was ready to walk away from the table, the author lured me back in with something better than the last course. Stick with it, dessert is always the best course anyway. ✰✰✰✰
I’d like to introduce one of my dearest friends, Maryellen. Maryellen is a 46-year-old avid reader, runner, and reviewer who lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband Mike and their two rowdy cats. The fact that she has a car named RoxyBlue and has a phone named Janet (Miss Jackson if you’re nasty) are two of a million reasons why I love her. Couple that with her insight, intelligence, and her always half-full glass of optimism and it makes for an exceptional book reviewer. I have asked Maryellen to post her reviews here every other Monday. She gracefully accepted.